Moorestown resident Julia Lebonitte and her partner Kevin Dunne will be taking a long journey from Georgia to Maine, on foot, in early 2016, all in the name of Julia’s mother Peggy Lebonitte and a good cause.
With their campaign Every Step for Peggy, Lebonitte and Dunne will be making a 2,200-mile trek up the Appalachian Trail in partnership with the National Brain Tumor Society. They will take the first step of their journey on March 17, and travel until September. However, before they start their journey, they want to raise awareness and funds for the NBTS.
“We are so excited to share this experience with the world and to watch Every Step for Peggy grow,” Lebonitte said.
Every Step for Peggy was started after Peggy passed away in 2014 from brain tumors. Though Peggy suffered from many illnesses all her life, Lebonitte said you would’ve never known, as she always lived her life to the fullest and selflessly. She was known in Moorestown to volunteer and spread her love of art and reading to those less fortunate.
“I feel so blessed to have had a mother that taught me true, generous, unconditional love with open arms and an open heart. Heaven is lucky to have her, for while living she made a heaven on earth,” Lebonitte said.
After her mother’s passing, Lebonitte was tempted to start her journey into the wilderness right then and there. However, after some much-needed TLC from Dunne, an idea arose from her sadness. She knew her mother wouldn’t want her to be sad, but instead give back. After some research, Lebonitte and Dunne found a way to be selfless like her mother and raise money for the NBTS with their journey.
However, Every Step for Peggy isn’t just to raise money for NBTS; it is also to spread awareness. Throughout their trek, Lebonitte and Dunne will speak about brain tumors and the NBTS.
Lebonitte and Dunne will start their hike on Springer Mountain in Georgia where the Appalachian Trail starts and follow it to the end at Mt. Katahdin in Maine. The first step of their journey will be on St. Patrick’s Day, March 17. They will be carrying everything they need on their backs including shelter, water, food and clothing. The pair will be sleeping in a tent most of the time except for when they go through towns where they can go for supplies and have an occasional hostel/hotel stay. The trail takes the average hiker about five to six months, so they plan to be at the summit of Mt. Katahdin sometime in early to mid-September.
Lebonitte and Dunne — both lovers of travel, adventure and nature — take walks, hikes, bike rides and rock climbing to prepare. But they know nothing will prepare them for the six-month hike in the woods. However, they feel mental preparation is more important than physical.
“Mind over matter comes into play a lot on long, hard journeys. And, honestly, mental preparation comes with time, research and starting to introduce mind over matter meditations into daily life. This is why it’s good we waited and didn’t just go when Julia had the urge,” Dunne said.
Both Lebonitte and Dunne have some nervousness with the journey such as injuries and illness, but for the most part are looking forward to their hike. Lebonitte is looking forward to walking off her sadness while building strength, stamina and character. She also is looking forward to seeing the change of seasons firsthand and stepping away from society for awhile. Dunne is looking forward to the change from everyday routines and the change of seasons, as well as strengthening himself physically and mentally.
“I am very excited to be able to spend more time with Kevin. We just have so much fun together in bad times and good and I know we will be amazing,” Lebonitte said.
“I look forward to being with Julia and the power couple enhancement we will experience,” Dunne said.
To donate to Every Step for Peggy and the NBTS, visit www.braintumorcommunity.org/goto/everystepforpeggy. If you’d like to support Lebonitte and Dunne with a meal or a night’s stay at a hostel, visit www.gofundme.com/everystepforpeggy. To see and follow their journey, follow or like them on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter at Every Step for Peggy.