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Tuckerman Ravine to Hampton Beach: EHS, WHS grads to trek 108 miles for mental health

HAMPTON – A group of Exeter High School and Winnacunnet High School graduates are set to embark on a trek intended to symbolize the rollercoaster of emotions the coronavirus pandemic has caused. Beginning Dec. 17, EHS graduates Adrian Delli Colli and Garret Roberts along with WHS graduate Emmie Daswani will hike 108 miles from the base of Tuckerman Ravine on Mount Washington to Hampton Beach to raise awareness about mental illness. The Class of 2019 grads said the hike is the first official action for their new organization called the “Concept Project,” which they want to grow to put on large-scale outdoor events to raise awareness for critical social issues. The hike is called “Highs and Lows,” and by walking from the base of the highest point in New Hampshire to the state’s lowest point at the beach, it is meant to exemplify the emotional highs and lows everybody has felt over the past year, not just those with diagnosed mental illnesses. The group of friends are inviting hikers to join them for all or portions of the trek and have started a GoFundMe campaign to solicit donations to be donated to the New Hampshire chapter of the National Alliance of Mental Illness, they said. “The walk will represent the various highs and lows everyone experiences throughout their day; one minute you can be on top of the world and the next, you can find yourself in a bad place,” said Roberts, a sophomore at the University of Massachusetts Lowell. “We figured no one walks 108 miles from Mount Washington in the middle of December so we’ll raise attention just from doing that.” Delli Colli got the ball rolling for the Concept Project in November while attending Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Delli Colli completed a 150-kilometer walk around the province as a tribute to the 22 victims of the worst mass shooting in modern Canadian history back in April. Delli Colli said he and a friend raised more than 10,000 Canadian dollars by mimicking the route the shooter took during the 13-hour rampage around the province and met with surviving family members and had groups of people join them for stretches. He said the proceeds will be donated to help build a new community center outside Halifax. “My main goal for doing the first walk was to learn about the communities that were touched by the tragedy and meet people who were affected; on the last day of 10 hours of hiking, we were never alone for a minute,” said Delli Colli, now a sophomore at Dalhousie. “In the (U.S.), gun violence has been unfortunately normalized in a way but up here people don’t see it as a Canadian issue, so my mind was blown this was the largest shooting in Canadian history, but it doesn’t crack the top 10 in the U.S.” Delli Colli said he hopes to replicate the support for the Highs and Lows walk and lay the groundwork for future Concept Project endeavors, which Roberts said can be done in, “any place” to support solving pressing issues to any specific community.

“I’m most excited to showcase the state that I live in, and for me personally, I’m doing this to benefit my own personal mental health,” Delli Colli said. “We’re so lucky for our mental health to live in a place where you can ski on a Saturday and go surfing on Sunday. It’ll be great to walk through the landscape and see the mountains disappear and turn into the beach.” Daswani said final preparations are being made and the group will rely on a number of fire stations between North Conway and the Seacoast to sleep in for the night before heading out bright and early the following morning. She said she anticipates them walking anywhere between 22 and 28 miles per day to complete the trek within five days. “A lot of my friends I know are having a hard time mentally getting through the pandemic,” said Daswani, a sophomore at Suffolk University in Boston. “It’ll be a really accomplishing feeling stepping onto the beach knowing that we made a difference for people who are struggling right now.” Delli Colli said by completing the Highs and Lows walk he and his friends hope to grow the Concept Project into a goodwill-inspiring social network of sorts so people feel empowered to lead relatively simple outdoor events, yet large in ambition and scale, to spread positivity following a gloomy year for everyone. “We are all truly in this together even if we seem so far apart, so this walk is a visual representation of that and it’ll hopefully put people in better head spaces,” Delli Colli said. “We want to cap off 2020 with some positive news, and while nothing is guaranteed, hope next year turns out better.”

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