In summary I'm a chronically ill, chronically adventurous 18 year old attempting to travel from my home town of Portland Maine, to Spain in order to walk the beautiful Camino de Santiago. Unfortunately the aforementioned trip is far from cheap and I will need a little help meeting my financial goals, which is where all of you wonderful people come into play. I am asking for your help to go on an amazing journey and create something incredible and meaningful upon my return home. For further details including the always entertaining who, what, when, where, and why please read on!
Why the Camino:
To understand the significance of this trip think its important to share a little bit of my past. When I was six years old I was diagnosed with a very rare and rather unpleasant autoimmune disease by the name of dermatomyositis. Its an aggressive illness that targets my muscle and skin tissue causing severe and damaging inflammation of the afflicted areas. Needless to say I spent a LOT of time resting, which didn't exactly do much to quell my naturally adventurous spirit, so I found my reprieve in movies in books living countless proxy lives in which I could go on exhilarating adventures all over the globe discovering new places and diving headlong into the next great venture! Now fast forward a little over a decade and sprinkle on a tremendous amount of hard work as well as a ton of support from some truly incredible people and not only am I just as adventurous as ever but I no longer need to rely on movies or books. I'm finally in a place where I don't have to live a proxy life, I can be the person going on the life changing trip, I can be the one finding new places and meeting wonderful new people, I can be the one seeing the world. And this trip promises to be my greatest milestone towards living my dreams thus so wish me luck!
What am I doing there:
Beyond the obvious "I'm walking an amazing trail and it's gonna be super fun and awesome and stuff!" my plan is to combine my passion for travel with my desire to share my experiences with as many people as I can and in doing so create something that will inspire or at the very least entertain them. So as I immerse myself as wholeheartedly as possible into the culture of the Camino I will do everything I can to bring you and whoever else may be interested along for the ride and through various videos, photographs, and written accounts of my experiences along the Camino I hope to recreate the sensation of travel and exploration for those who for whatever reason be it physical or financial could not do it themselves.
Why should you donate:
By donating you aren’t just helping a random adventure hungry young man you may or may not know see the world. You are fostering the idea that we should spend less time absorbed in our pre-determined daily routines and more time experiencing all the incredible things around us. You will be helping fund the creation of something meant to inspire and invigorate all of those involved to live life BIG and with as little regret as possible. So please donate what you can and share this story with as many people as possible, a donation of any size will be hugely appreciated! Thank you so much!
For any and all updates you can follow me on tumblr at the-longest-way.tumblr.com or on Twitter @troyveltheworld
Why I deserve this, and a little bit about my past:
I’m not always the best at shameless self promotion or focusing on the less than pleasant parts of my past so I’m gonna let my mother handle this bit.
When Troy was 6yrs old he was diagnosed with a rare autoimmune disease called Dermatomyositis, inflammation of the skin (Derma) and inflammation of the muscles (Myositis). A few years later he was also diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis, inflammation of the joints.
Before Troy was diagnosed with DM, we use to joke that his name Troy was short for Destroy, he had a very strong physical energy that landed him in the emergency room on more than one occasion. Even at a young age Troy wanted to feel everything BIG, emotionally and physically. He wanted to live life BIG. The DM slowed him down for many years but it never diminished the desire to lIve BIG.
For years Troy lived under the constant umbrella of chronic health problems, our entire days revolved around his level of pain, inflammation and energy for the day.
We were told early on that if he was to go into remission it would happen within the first 5yrs of diagnosis and in order to ‘treat’ the illness he needed lots of rest and lots of medication. For the first 5 yrs from ages 6 – 11, this is what his life was: limited mobility, chronic pain, more medication than I care to mention and rest, lots of rest.
By the 6th grade it was clear Troy’s disease was not going into remission, we were both exhausted from years of medications/treatments. At this point in his life he was suffering as much from side effects from the medication as he was from the illness itself. His quality of life was very minimal. After a short grieving period we agreed that if this was going to be his life then he was going to make the best of it.
He has an amazing sense of humor and he loves to make others laugh. Despite his chronic pain he had a very positive approach to life. We decided that we had tried everything the doctors suggested and we were not happy with the results so we began the process of ‘taking his life back’.
Troy chose to live with the pain as a mind over matter attitude. He moved away from the daily medications and now does an infusion once a year to keep his disease activity to a minimum. If you met Troy you probably would have no idea what he has been through because he doesn’t have a poor me, why me? victim mentality. He smiles and jokes through the pain. It’s not an act, Troy truly has a warm, sunny personality that others can’t help but be drawn to.
In the 8th grade Troy relied on an electric scooter to get around school. His mobility had become so compromised and his muscles so weak that his muscles would often give out and he would end up falling on the ground, resulting in 3 concussions in a short period of time. Falling at school became a liability issue. Getting the electric scooter allowed him to remain as physically independent as possible and kept him relatively safe.
By the time he got to high school he was finally starting to feel better, his disease was not in remission but the changes he had made over the past year were finally starting to pay off, he was able to ‘pass’ as ‘healthy’.
As a Freshman he kayaked at Cow Island with his classmates. During his Freshman year he also became intrigued with the Santiago trail in Spain, having watched a movie about it he set his sights on walking it. This was a big dream considering less than a year ago he relied on an electric scooter.
As a Sophomore he went white water rafting and became interested in mixed martial arts. As he came into his Junior year he became interested in working out & crossfit. (He now Crossfits regularly) he also hiked a portion of the Appalachian trail. All of this takes a toll on his body but he pushes through it because the alternative is not a life he wants. As a Senior he joined the swim team. For his 18th birthday shortly after he graduated high school he went sky diving..
His DM will probably never go into remission, he will always live with some level of activity and at some point it may even become a part of his daily life again. Until then Troy will continue to live BIG. This is just the beginning for him.
Travel and film is a HUGE passion for Troy. He learned some very valuable lessons at a young age during the challenging years. Life is not about the things you collect or the accolades for success that you gain. It is about the experiences, the memories and the strong relationships you carry with you.
I believe this trip to Spain to walk the Santiago trail will be the first of many experiences he enjoys and captures for so many other people to enjoy.
If you have ever been warmed by Troy’s dominating smile, laughed at him or along with him or had the pleasure of calling him your friend I encourage you to donate as little as $10.00 to help make his dream of travel come true. He will share the experience with you through his blog the-longest-way.tumblr.com
If you made it this far thanks for being a champ and reading the whole thing. You are a lovely human being!
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