Where’s Andy?


We are coming up on the two-year anniversary of Andy’s passing.  I find myself taking a pause to reflect on the past year and how although Andy’s physical presence is no longer with us, his spiritual essence and legacy remain strong and vibrant. Andy continues to inspire and energize both the people who knew him and people who only learned of his incredible story after his death.

I feel like a proud mother in many ways knowing my pure, wholesome, beautiful, thoughtful, courageous boy that I gave birth to 26-years ago is still making his mark. His life has created a legacy and has brought wonder and astonishment to all who knew him and all who learn of him.

Looking back on this year, what ignited a new reverence for Andy began with a story. The story was told through a hiker and writer from Back Packer Magazine titled “Gone Hiking.”   The author told of Andy’s heroic journey to hike the entire Pacific Crest Trail despite his diagnosis of terminal cancer.  The story asks us to consider that even healthy people rarely complete a solo through hike of the entire PCT! Because of that story I received numerous emails from people across the nation who reached out and shared with me their awe, their joys, their sadness, but mostly their reverence.

Today I’m sharing the ways that other people (many times complete strangers) took Andy’s story as inspiration for adventure and creativity and for making a positive difference in their lives and the lives of others. In my last blog I mentioned Hike Healthy and the podcast interview that I did with Paul Shoemaker who profiled Andy as a way to help people realize their dreams and make changes in their lifestyle that enable them to have happier and more rewarding lives.

After that a fellow hiker from the PCT class of 2012, “Typo” aka Jeremy Star offered to make a documentary of Andy’s trek on the PCT and tell his story through images using Andy’s own voice from recordings he made while on the trail. As I write this, Andy’s friend “Gourmet” aka Marc Fendel is hiking on the Pacific Northwest trail with fellow PCT hikers as part of “Team Astro.” They have dedicated their hike to Andy’s memory and plan on finishing on August 30, the two year anniversary of his death.

VERY EXCITING . . . the local Nevada City radio station KVMR will be broadcasting a beautifully written account of Andy’s adventure on the Pacific Crest Trail as a tribute on this special day.  The broadcast begins at 9 pm on Sunday, August 30th.  You can tune in via your electronic device at http://www.kvmr.org.  I have listened to it and found it to be extraordinarily inspiring, but of course, I am biased. It’s very well done and better than anything you might find on TV.

The broadcast is part of the KVMR Pacific Crest Trail Trailside Readings by Larry Hillberg.  Feel free to share this with anyone you know who is interested in the nostalgic fireside chats of radio in years gone by.

Lastly, there is a young woman Neda who heard of Andy, read the story and this blog and is riding her bike from Vancouver to Mexico in honor of Andy with the hopes of raising money to donate to the Make a Wish Foundation!

On my part I have taken a little bit of Andy on every adventure that I’ve been on these past two years. I’ve taken his ashes in my pocket. He’s been to Portugal, Greece, Italy, Croatia, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, France, Poland, Spain (he ‘walked’ the Camino de Santiago with Michael) and Burma (see below)! There is still a little bit more of him left – so we will see where he goes to next. I do know one thing for sure that he is always with me. He’s in my heart and whenever I think of him there he is, full of love and tenderness.

To see the adventure that Andy’s been on over the last two months check out the link to Team Astro at: http://www.teamastro.org/

*The picture on the top of this page was taken at the Shwedagon Paya in Yangon, Burma.  It is one of Buddhism’s most sacred sites.  I was honored to accompany my teacher and other dharma practitioner’s this year on a Pilgrimage and Retreat.  On New Year’s Eve we had a ritual where I spontaneously put some of Andy’s ashes in the middle of our circle, drew a heart and we each placed our fingers into the middle to touch him.  It was beautiful!

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8 Responses to Where’s Andy?

  1. smac0 says:

    Very inspiring and helpful, especially to those of us who have lost precious loved ones.

  2. Lin Beers says:

    Betsy, You continue to inspire me with your courage, love and devotion to Andy’s memory and legacy. Because of you the ripple of Andy’s life and journey continues to elevate all of us. Blessings and love to you, Michael and Alex this weekend. Love, Lin

    PS Google Sierra High Route and you can see what a difficult route Ken is attempting.


  3. Robin Pierson says:

    The picture of Andy in the snow, his arms outstretched, his smile huge and his heart wide open, remains on my refrigerator, reminding me that joy is available even in the midst of the most relentless of hardships. The two of you remain a powerful team, change agents who continue to help the rest of us live gracefully & fully with the obstacles and challenges that never fail to come our way. Thank you for sharing. Robin

  4. Carol says:

    You have every reason to be a proud mother. Andy was and continues to be an amazing inspiration. Thank you for sharing. i love hearing abut your experience.

  5. Becca C. says:

    In 2012, I was dreaming of hiking the PCT when my baby got older. I devoured the blogs, daydreamed of endless hiking. When I found Andy’s blog, I was deeply moved by his strength, his struggle with Lymphoma, and his decision to hike. I cheered his progress and smiled each time I saw that ear to ear grin in a photo. My heart ached fit his family and friends when I heard of his passing.

    In December 2013, I was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. My desire to hike the PCT never left, but it sure seems like a far reach, after continuous treatment ending in a auto and allo stem cell transplant last fall. And then I remembered Andy 🙂 His amazing tenacity tells me “go for it!” Someday, I will.

    I appreciate how Andy continues to inspire hikers, year after year! I know he’ll be on my mind when I get out there. Thanks Andy! And much love to you, Betsy.

  6. Mark Mcmanus says:

    Betsy, the broadcast was beautiful. I am so sorry that I have not reached out to my sisters dear friend long ago. I have spent many hours praying for Andy, Alex, Michael, you and John since Andy’s diagnosis.  It has been fear that has kept me silent. I have always feared that something would happen to our children Meghan and Maura, something beyond my control. It still keeps me sleepless.  Knowing Andy and Alex since they were grade schoolers, happy children with so many people who love and cared for them. I can’t begin to imagine the strength it took you, Alex and Michael to see this through. What a beautiful, tragic, sad, yet enlightening reality. I thank you for sharing Astro’s story. As I listened to the broadcast, I cried and yet felt strength. I am sure many had similar feelings.  I include Andy in my nightly prayers and am grateful that many people find strength in his message. What a fine, unique and determined GIANT he is. Much love, Mark McManus

  7. Mary McDonald says:

    I love the photo, the story behind it, and all the ways you teach us to keep those we love in our lives and in our hearts
    XO Love, Mary McDonald

  8. I wanted to leave a comment to speak wth you about Andy’s passing. If you could email me back, I would love it. Thank you.

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