ATHENS, Tenn. — The breast cancer support group Hiking for Healing is still growing in spirit and finding new ways to connect through the pandemic.
We first introduced you to the nonprofit back in the Fall of 2018. Its goal is to walk through nature together and lift each other up through cancer journeys.
With every step on this newly-tread Eureka Trail in Athens, comes a feeling of encouragement for Dolphin Riggs. She's the founder and leader of the group, committed to making breast cancer fighters and survivors feel loved.
Even through the pandemic, she's finding ways to connect with women who want the healing benefits of being in nature, but who may not be able to get out and about.
"The group is still growing and it's a great way to find your own bubble," Riggs said. "A bubble you know that you can talk to."
A bubble that's now including the internet.
"We're doing virtual hikes and so a couple of my people and I go out and we hike and we do the narration and put it on," Riggs explained.
She doesn't want any breast cancer fighter or survivor to miss out on the healing power of nature, so she teaches and talks, even through "trail calls" so home-bound women are still able to video dial in to the adventure.
"It's nice to watch but it's even better if you can make a call on the trail and they can see it live and we can talk and they can walk along with us for a minute or two or three or whatever it takes," Riggs smiled.
The boots on the ground are the sound of the group's heartbeat.
"You've got to go on. You can't sit down. You've got to keep going and again I say fight like a girl," Riggs encouraged. "If they tell you you can't-- you can. There is life after cancer. There's life every day."
Every Facebook update, video post and call made is filled with learning and healing along the way.
"Know that we're in this together," Riggs said.
Hiking for Healing is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. You can connect with the group on Facebook here.
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The Eureka Trail in Athens is newly opened and renovated. It's part of the rails and trails program, where a former railroad was converted into a walking trail with tightly packed gravel for people in the community to enjoy.
Horses, dogs, bikes and humans who wants to get out in nature are welcome. There are markers for plants and landmarks all throughout the Eureka Trail in Athens.