A former St Theodore’s pupil from Burnley is undertaking a mammoth 2,650-mile hike along the west coast of the US to raise invaluable funds for a debilitating disease that affects one in 30,000 people.
James Trafford, 25, a personal trainer, has lived in Melbourne, Australia, since emigrating four years ago and is planning to hike the imposing Pacific Crest Trail.
The trek will take him from within 20 miles of the Canadian border to the Mexican border in the south, with funds being raised for the Prader-Willi Research Foundation of Australia.
The disease - a non-inherited genetic condition - affects most of the fuctions of the body and the brain, with symptoms varying from scoliosis to impaired cognition.
James is aiming to complete the trip in five months, starting in July, and is taking the notably tougher north-to-south route, elected by just five per cent of hikers.
“He’s doing it on his own,” said James’s sister, Elizabeth Wilkinson, 28, of Pendle Way. “It’s going to have to be military precision.”
Only 4,132 people have completed the perilous trail, which has claimed the lives of many a hiker in recent times. Crossing 57 mountain passes, dipping into 19 canyons and passing over 1,000 lakes, it traverses three US states - Washington, Oregon and California - through snowy mountains, thick forests and sun-scorched desert.
But a severely determined James, who has undergone altitude training in preparation, is motivated to improve the lives of Prader-Willi sufferes.
“There’s not much research done into it,” said Elizabeth. “He decided that rather than do it for a cancer charity or something that there’s a lot of awareness of, he’d do it for something that isn’t so well-known about.”
Having received international coverage, James will be doing a video blog to document his gargantuan trip.
l If you would like to donate, please visit the GoFundraise page http://makingadifference.gofundraise.com.au/page/JamesTrafford