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Of all seemingly innocuous topics, I was recently surprised to find hiking caught in the middle of a most persnickety online debate. In one thread, athletic enthusiasts hastily poured their auto correct failing hearts out over how “The Hike” should be categorized: a recreation or a sport?

While the comments proved a riveting form of entertainment, sports fans decreed that without a sense competition, hiking is but only an outdoor activity. Empathetic Sports Fans (see: athletes who hike, sometimes), were slightly more open-minded but would ultimately find comfort in pop-song referential statements such as, “No longer a recreation, not yet a sport.”

But what do hikers think of their undecided position within traditional sports canon? For the most part, people who like to hike were… well… probably off hiking and unavailable for comment. Their response to such claims most closely resembles the chirping of crickets one might hear as they stare into the night’s sky after a day’s long trek. Fresh air, tall pines, spring water & camp fire. These are what fill the hiker’s mind. The regard for the outdoors, self-determination and a connection to nature transcends the world’s perception for these outdoor explorers.

In many ways, folks with bleeding disorders and their caregivers, our community, have learned to live similarly to the hiker’s manifesto. As individuals and household members, there is a cacophony of voices that aim to guide, inform and label people who bleed. While these forces are without question necessary and important to managing our disorders, we must, like the hiker, transcend our diagnoses, seek truth, and find empowerment through the choices we make and remain confident that these choices need only be justified to ourselves.r & camp fire. These are what fill the hiker’s mind. The regard for the outdoors, self-determination and a connection to nature transcends the world’s perception for these outdoor explorers.

It’s with these considerations (and a Thoreauvian respect for the Maine woods) that The Hemophilia Alliance of Maine has chosen the HIKE4HAM as our flagship event. On Sunday, September 22, 2013, our second annual hike will take place on the Mt. Battie Trail, Camden Hills National Park in Camden, Maine. We’ll have plenty of water and lunch will be provided, in kind, by Famous Dave’s BBQ. Registration and the ability to fundraise your own pledges are available online at our new website: http://mainehemophilia.org. Transportation will be provided so that all who hit the trails can participate in strengthening the bleeding disorders community.

Can’t make it to the official event? HAM invites you to hike anytime and anywhere. Like our Facebook page and share your hiking photos. You can also tag your hike on Twitter (@mainehemophilia) or Instagram using #HIKE4HAM.

We hope to see you in Maine! The Way A Bleeder’s Life Should Be.

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Justin Levesque specializes in the critical analysis of images and their impact on social norms & community expectations. He currently lives in Portland, Maine and runs his own design studio, Shop Geometry. He’s volunteered at the New England Hemophilia Association (NEHA) Family Camp, serves as the Creative Director for The Hemophilia Alliance of Maine, and graphic designer for HFA. Justin is also a co-director of a project called “FOLX” which provides education and resources for LGBTQ bleeders.

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