Man Completed State Charity Trek In Ocean City Last Weekend

Man Completed State Charity Trek In Ocean City Last Weekend
Man Completed

OCEAN CITY — One man’s 321-mile journey across the state of Maryland on foot and on a bicycle for the benefit of a children’s cancer charity ended as planned with a jubilant finale at the Inlet in Ocean City on Saturday, exceeding his fundraising expectations.

On Aug. 17, Baltimore area meteorologist Justin Berk began his hiking and biking journey across Maryland at the summit of the Wisp ski resort in Western Maryland and 321 miles, lots of blisters and seven long days later, he arrived at the Inlet in Ocean City on Saturday.

When Berk was 14, he nearly lost a leg to a staph infection and battled long odds to achieve athletic, academic and professional success.

In an effort to commemorate his own personal journey, and perhaps more importantly to raise funds to support young cancer patients and survivors in Maryland, Berk decided to undertake the trans-state trek across Maryland from one mountainous corner to the seashore in Ocean City.

He undertook the trek on behalf of the Cool Kids Campaign, a non-profit organization devoted to improving the quality of life for pediatric oncology patients and their families by focusing on the academic, social and emotional needs brought on by a cancer diagnosis.

His symbolic journey captured significant attention on social media sites with 160,000 Facebook followers and 17,000 Twitter followers. His initial goal was to get a donation of $1 from every one of his Facebook followers, which would top out at a remarkable $160,000, but he later tempered the goal to $14,000, which represents the age at which he became ill and lost his leg. By the time he crossed the finish line in Ocean City on Saturday, he had raised over $21,000 for the Cool Kids Campaign.

Berk started the trip on Sunday, Aug. 17 in western Maryland. He started each day with a 27-mile hike, symbolic of the 27 years since he was ill, followed by a 14-mile bike ride, symbolizing his age when he was sick and almost lost his leg.

Each day along the journey, Berk, through his social media sites, told the story of one of the Cool Kids who either has cancer or is a cancer survivor. He was also met along the way by other cancer survivors or those suffering from various illnesses who joined him for a brief part of the journey.

Last Thursday, he crossed the Bay Bridge and onto the Eastern Shore. Berk completed the penultimate leg of the journey last Friday and arrived in Salisbury.

On Saturday, he completed the final 30 miles or so into Ocean City, where he was met with a warm reception and quickly soaked his ailing feet into the warm, recuperative Atlantic. He was welcomed to the Inlet by his two sons and other family.

Later, on his Facebook page, Berk wrote, “Everything came together despite many adjustments along the way. Hopefully the messages I tried to convey about the pursuit of a goal, finding a way around any obstacle, my story, rebuilding yourself, Cool Kids trying to just be kids, generosity from all walks of life, some humor, the numbers, and more.”