Mountain Valley Pipeline Protest Run

On April 24th, 2021 a team of three women - Mercedes Walters, Sarah Hodder, Katie Thompson- will be running/cycling 415 miles from West Virginia to Virginia paralleling  the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) construction path. The purpose is to protest the building of the MVP, document the community and environmental impact of the pipeline, and raise donations to benefit the impacted community.  The project will span 10 days from April 24th - May 3rd and will be relay style. While on this journey the runners will interact with community members (adhering to  CDC social distancing guidelines) and collect their stories about how the MVP has impacted them personally. The images and stories of this project will be captured by Matthew Pickett who is a producer/photog and the creator of Loud Valley Productions, LLC. Loud Valley Productions has been involved in the fight against the MVP since 2015 and we are very excited to have them apart of our team. 

The Mountain Valley Pipeline is slated to travel 303 miles past and through multiple protected lands (national forest, recreation areas, etc.), through a majority of privately owned land, Monacan Indian Nation land, and cross over 1,000 different water sources.

Protect Our Heritage Rights (POWHR) has been instrumental in documenting the impact the MVP construction has/will have on water sources and mobilizing the community to fight the construction of the MVP. Per their website, "POWHR is an interstate coalition representing individuals and groups from counties in Virginia and West Virginia dedicated to protecting the water, local ecology, heritage, land rights, human rights of individuals, communities and regions from harms caused by the expansion of fossil fuel infrastructure". The runners are excited for the opportunity to support POWHR's work through donations raised during this project. To learn more about POWHR please visit their website: 
POWHR has a Joint Plan of Work with Virginia Organizing, a 501c3 organization that accepts grants and donations on behalf of POWHR. Virginia Organizing is officially registered with the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, P.O. Box 1163, Richmond, VA 23209. You can write to this Department for all relevant financial statements and procedures regarding the solicitation of contributions. 

The Monacan Indian Nation has been disproportionately impacted by the pipeline which has compounded the issues they already face. The Monacan Indian Nation Foundation is responsible for supporting the members of the Monacan Nation and  has struggled through the COVID-19 pandemic due to the lack of funding- more than ever they need our support. This project is also an opportunity to educate the population about the Monacan Indian Nation and their history. The runners are looking forward to supporting the Monacan Nation Indian Foundation through donations raised during this project. To learn more about this foundation and the Monacan Nation history please visit their website: 

This is a  list of the protected forests and recreation areas the MVP would cross very near to (the farthest is 20 miles) and travel through: Appalachian Trail (near McAfee Knob- the AT's most photographed location), Jefferson National Forest, New River Gorge,  Stonewall Jackson State Park, Bush Mountain Wilderness, and Cranberry Wildlife Management Area

This project would not be possible without support from the following groups: Patagonia, Appalachians Against Pipelines, Appalachian Voices, ARTivism Virginia, POWHR
THANK YOU for your continued support!

The money collected via this GoFundMe will be directly donated to the following organizations:
Protect Our Heritage and Rights
The Monacan Indian Nation Foundation

Mountain Valley Pipeline
"The Mountain Valley Pipeline would carry fracked gas from shale fields in West Virginia to intersect with the existing Transco Pipeline, a major highway for transporting gas to market overseas. MVP's goal is not only profit off this pipeline, but increasing international dependence on fossil fuels."
- Appalachians Against Pipelines

"At 42 inches, or 3-½ feet in diameter, it would be larger than the infamous Keystone XL pipeline, and plow a 125-foot wide construction zone of clear-cutting and excavation, scouring roughly 4,500 acres of land. It would cross hundreds of parcels of private land, many of which have been in families for generations. In the mountains, it would scale numerous steep mountain ridges in the 2,000 to 4,000 foot range. It would also cut through about five miles of the Jefferson National Forest and bisect the iconic Appalachian Trail and Blue Ridge Parkway. Afterwards, it would leave a 50-foot wide strip of permanently cleared land along the entire route."
- Appalachian Voices

To learn more about the Mountain Valley Pipeline please visit the following websites:

Learn more about the runners!
Below are personal summaries written by each runner outlining how the Blue Ridge Mountains have impacted them and why they feel this area deserves to be preserved:

Mercedes Walters

As a child I was entranced by the outdoors, every second I could I would spend exploring my backyard, and growing up in Southern California surrounded by the beach and mountains catered to that obsession. When I was a young adult and came to Washington, DC to earn my Masters in Speech-Language Pathology I had lost my way, no longer consumed by pine trees and saltwater but rather depression and anxiety. I knew I had always wanted to be in the business of helping people, of making a difference, but I had lost touch with my wild side. While living in DC I slowly began to explore the Blue Ridge Mountains and local climbing crags such as New River Gorge where I was able to rediscover my true love, the outdoors. These hills and crags were nothing like I had ever experienced and they gave me the opportunity to reconnect with my true self. I owe my ongoing mental recovery and current life direction to those experiences, which is why I am so passionate about preserving them. Along with my passion for outdoor adventure, I have an innate drive to help people. As a Speech Therapist, I am able to satisfy this drive, but I have always wanted to connect this passion with the outdoors. I have been so inspired by the community effort to fight against the Mountain Valley Pipeline and fight for community member's land rights and I believe that this fight deserved to be highlighted as a shining example and motivation to the rest of the world. I am honored for the opportunity to bring a brighter light to this story of resistance in order to celebrate the grassroots efforts and raise donations to support the community that has fought long and hard for its residents and its land preservation. 

Katie Thompson

Katie Thompson grew up in a small rural, farming town called Berryville, Virginia. Although she lived in Virginia, she went to school from Kindergarten through 8th grade in Kearneysville, West Virginia, and made the move to Charles Town, West Virginia in her 20s. Straight out of college, she worked for a non-profit as a Program Coordinator developing outdoor education programming for underprivileged and at-risk youth from Jefferson County, West Virginia and Washington D.C.  During this time, Katie learned the importance of health and preserving the outdoors and making it available to these underserved populations. Currently, Katie works for a non-profit developing running programs and camps for youth and adults, as well as directing some of the largest running races in West Virginia.
Having a strong connection to 2 farming communities in two different states, yet bordering counties, Katie has witnessed the difference between a well-funded Virginia community with established conservation easements and enforced EPA restrictions vs the under-funded, underrepresented West Virginia. It’s disheartening to see one of the most beautiful states in the country be taken advantage of, and ripped of it’s natural resources. As the idea of farming becomes more “antiquated”, government subsidies become less sustainable, families are finding themselves choosing between family heritage and sustainable incomes. Farmlands becoming developed is a sad reality, but with government agencies calling “eminent domain” on small businesses, corporate industries trying to move in under the radar with potential environmental disastrous consequences, in her West Virginia community, enough is enough.
Jefferson County is lucky to have had involved citizens thwart the pipeline that would have destroyed a close family friends’ farm. So, she knows first hand the devastation these companies can have on the community, with little or no say. Impassioned, motivated, angry and fed up, Katie is determined to help those affected by the potential Mountain Valley Pipeline. She has seen what community awareness can do, and wants to give the public their voice and the right to protect their land, their property and their heritage.

Sarah Hodder

As a child growing up in the Blue Ridge Mountains, my father instilled  a profound sense of love and appreciation for the outdoors in me. I remember spending hours in a canoe awaiting a tug on my fishing line while my father went on about the waterways, the species of fish there and their habits. He would go on about the ecosystems, how we needed to revere the land we lived on and respect the animals. He would take my sister and I on hikes, the whole time pointing out different types of rock. He’d talk about the history of the Blue Ridge Mountains and how they were forged. Fast forward a number of years, and the hours I spent outside with him would define the way I lived and ultimately save me from the toils of mental health issues. Recently, my reverence for wild places has led me to exploring the valleys and ridges of the blue ridge mountains on foot. As a trail and ultra runner, I’ve found peace while running freely amongst the forest. Having spent the last 16 years of my life in the Eastern Panhandle, I've explored all the mountains of our region and have fallen in love with this place. I’ve traveled near and far putting thousands of miles on my feet exploring both the east and west coasts. In doing so, I’ve witnessed first hand what greedy capitalism has done to wild places, how corporations have stolen and destroyed lands and waterways, in much the same way that land rights were stolen from indigenous populations hundreds of years ago. The MVP represents those same aspects of greedy capitalism. It pains me to think that a man, with no connection to the region or the people here, mapped out the construction of the pipeline in an office far away, with no regard to the deleterious impacts it would have on the waterways, the ecosystems and the lives of the people in the region. That is why I am impassioned to fight against it. The fight thus far has been inspiring and I hope to shed further light on those efforts, that we can use our knowledge, resources and passion for running outdoors as a means to raise money and awareness to support the communities directly impacted by the MVP.

Fundraising team: Fundraising team (5)

Mercedes Walters
Raised 1526 $ from 16 donations
Washington D.C., DC
Grace Tuttle
Team member
Raised 1297 $ from 17 donations
Katie Thompson
Team member
Raised 1220 $ from 23 donations
Sarah Hodder
Team member
Raised 1065 $ from 20 donations
Matthew Pickett
Team member
Raised 520 $ from 6 donations

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