For those who don’t know, hiking the entire Appalachian Trail is not like a Sunday hike at NJ’s Sourlands. It’s grueling. It’s dangerous. There are check-in stations along the way so that if you don’t sign in at the following one the authorities will know you’re lost and send a search party. It’s more than 2,190 miles. Of those who attempt to hike the length of it each year only one in four make it.

Meet a Jersey man who’s going to try. Jake Mosca. A 24-year-old guy from Dunellen, New Jersey who has a story to tell. It’s a story of love and loss, courage and a little music thrown in at the end.

When Jake was little he and his grandpa Jim Mosca Sr. were inseparable pals. As Jake puts it…

When I was young, I spent a lot of time with my grandpa Jim. He would hold my hand as we went gallivanting like toddlers together. We were laughing and joking the entire time, with no regard for judgment. He helped shape me into the man I am now.

I was too young to really understand what it meant when he was initially diagnosed with Alzheimer's, but as time progressed, I started to see the love and light dwindle from the eyes of a man I cherished. Before long, Grandpa Jim forgot who I was, and then it was only a matter of time. I would do anything to be able to sit down with him one more time, talk to each other, and share our old joy. I wouldn't want anyone to experience something so terrible.

Photo courtesy of Jake Mosca
Photo courtesy of Jake Mosca

Because he wants to spare others from experiencing something so terrible he’s setting out later this year to hike the entire length of the Appalachian Trail starting in Georgia and ending in Maine. Why? To raise a little money and a lot of awareness for the disease that took his grandfather.

He started a fundraiser you can find on Facebook, The James Mosca Sr. Hike for Alzheimer’s. He’s partnered with the Alzheimer’s Association and if you’d like to make a direct donation you may do it here.

Jake grew up hiking as a Boy Scout so he has a real fighting chance at seeing this through. He’s not only hiked all over his home state of New Jersey but nearly half of the 3,500-foot peaks of the Catskills and Angels Landing in Utah. But he says the endurance needed for the entire length of the Appalachian Trail will be by far the hardest thing he’s done.

If love could be converted to energy he’s got this.

Grandpa Jim passed when I was 12 on September 2nd 2010. He was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in his 60s and died at 71. It seemed like he began to dwindle just as I began to need him the most. A grandparent is such a huge influence on any young man or woman, so I hope I can inspire someone to call their grandparent/s if they have them just to talk. Lord knows I’d do anything to be able to do that one last time.

I’ll never forget the night we got the call. We spent years watching him on the decline, but it still hurt just as bad in the end. I know he’d be full of pride knowing I’m doing this.

Photo courtesy of Jake Mosca
Photo courtesy of Jake Mosca

Along his journey he’ll be posting pics and updates to The James Mosca Sr. Hike for Alzheimer’s Facebook page. He believes he can hike the more than 2,000 miles in four to six months.

When it’s all over Jake Mosca plans on moving to Nashville to pursue his music career. He knows his grandfather would want that.

“Grandpa Jim always made sure my father followed his heart and I believe he’d want me to do the same,” says Mosca.

What a beautiful end to this story that would be.

Again if you want to donate to fight Alzheimer’s go here.

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