When Jennifer Krueger and Andy Patterson met five months ago, the first thing they talked about was their shared dream to hike the 2,000-mile Appalachian Trail. As their relationship continued to develop, so did their plans for spanning America from Georgia to Maine. Further motivation for tackling the seven-month trek came with the inspiration of making the walk a fund-raiser for multiple sclerosis. Patterson"s mother, Judy, has MS.

On April 5, Andy Patterson and Jennifer Krueger will embark on a hike of the Appalachian Trail.

So, on April 5, the Indianapolis couple will leave their jobs and home behind to tackle the rugged mountain trail. They"ll know that each mile they walk is bringing in money to help fight MS. "If I know somebody is sponsoring me, that gives me a reason to work hard and keep going," Krueger says, as she walks a trail at Eagle Creek Park, her backpack loaded with "heavy stuff" for practice. "Every step helps bring in a couple of pennies." Krueger and Patterson are asking people to sponsor them at a penny or nickel per mile. That adds up to $21.70 or $108.65. "It makes this trip not entirely selfish on our part. It"s not just about having fun and getting away from the war media and everything," Krueger says. "It"s for a good cause, too." Both are experienced hikers. Krueger has completed an 1,800-mile trek in the past. Patterson"s longest stretch was 68 miles in Southern Indiana. But those experiences and their occasional training walks will do little to prepare them for the walk that ends in October. "The only way to get prepared for carrying a backpack over mountains is to carry a backpack over mountains," says Patterson, a 35-year-old leaving behind a job in corporate security. "You can forget about training for something like this. We"re going to get our asses kicked," Krueger adds. "We"ll start out hiking 6 or 8 miles a day at first. Then we"ll build up from there. We"ll get into shape pretty quick. There"s no choice." Krueger is leaving a career as a social worker with victims of domestic violence. She says this is the perfect time for them to take this trip and come back to start anew in the working world. "I"m at a point where I really want to enjoy my life. I don"t have any major commitments keeping me from going," Patterson adds. "A lot of people do the trail when they are in a transition in their lives, when they"ve suffered a loss or decided to make a change," Krueger says. "It"s a good place for that." And an interesting place for a relatively new relationship to grow. "We have strangers telling us all of the time, "Wow, that"s going to be a test,"" Krueger says. "It"s going to be a blast to spend this much time together." People wishing to pledge to Jennifer Krueger and Andy Patterson"s Appalachian Trail MS Hike can send donations by making out checks to "AT for MS" c/o National Multiple Sclerosis Society at 7301 Georgetown Road, Suite 112, Indianapolis, IN, 46268. When Krueger and Patterson return, they"ll be sharing the story of their Appalachian Trail adventures with NUVO readers.

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