Collaborative Corner

“Four Pennies” by Swifty Foundation

Each month, the Children’s Brain Tumor Tissue Consortium highlights the stories and contributions of patient families, clinicians and researchers in “Collaborative Corner” to find cures for pediatric brain tumors.  If you would like to share your story as a guest blogger, please email


By Patti Gustafson, Swifty Foundation

Four PenniesEvery long and difficult journey starts with one step. For Eric Montgomery, that journey was the trek of a lifetime. Over the course of four months, he hiked the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT).

Although Eric hiked solo, he wasn’t alone. He was teamed up with Swifty Foundation, Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation, Dragon Master Foundation and Kortney Rose Foundation to raise awareness and funds for another difficult journey — curing childhood brain cancer.

The National Cancer Institute, the largest source of cancer research funding, currently spends only four pennies of every available research dollar on childhood cancer – with an even smaller portion dedicated to pediatric brain tumors.

Our foundations are working together to raise four pennies for each of the 4.6 million steps Eric took to hike the PCT for a total of $185,000! 100% of the proceeds will fund research for children with Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG), a highly aggressive brain cancer that defies treatment.

Here is a summary from Eric of his journey….(See the full Facebook post here)

With medical school around the corner, I have been processing the time I got to spend on the Pacific Crest Trail, thinking about all the places my own two feet took me over the nearly four month stretch.

Here are some highlights from my hike:Four Pennies

  1. Miles hiked: ~1800
  2. Most miles in one day: 48 (after I slept through my alarm)
  3. Snicker bars eaten: >100
  4. Lowest point: 170 feet above sea level (Cascade Locks)
  5. Highest point: 14,505 (Mt. Whitney)
  6. Pairs of shoes: 4 (including boots used for Sierra’s)
  7. Most blisters at any given time: 7 (nickel sized or larger)
  8. Favorite moment: walking across the Bighorn Plateau (over 12,000 feet) snowfield as the rising sun painted the western stretch of jagged Sierra peaks in its morning orange glow
  9. Scariest moment: hearing Roadrunner say she could see the eyes of a mountain lion not 20 feet away in the reflection of her headlamp as we hiked through the night at the end of California
  10. Most head-scratching moment: admiring a small portion of trail that traced the top of a ridge with Mt. Jefferson looming in the distance only to have a teenage black bear burst out of the burn clearing to the left and barrel full speed over a snowbank, launching itself into a forest on the right (all within 2 seconds)
  11. Desert highlight: the wonderfully friendly trail angel communities (most of all Tehachapi) and the sunrises/sunsets
  12. Sierra highlight: entering the Sierra’s before the snowmelt was truly an unparalleled experience, one of majestic, snow-bound glory and intense struggle most defined by wet feet
  13. Northern California highlight: everything from I-5 to Seiad Valley with all the views of Mt. Shasta and walking the hat creek rim at sunset
  14. Oregon highlight: Elk lake northbound for hikers is comparable to swinging on the monkey bars from one beautiful volcanic vista to another
  15. Washington highlights: the stark steepness of the Cascades with their meadows and lakes and whistle pigs (unfortunately cut short by lingering snow)
  16. Money raised to fight child brain cancer: over $120,000 and counting! Everyone’s generosity has been beyond my wildest imagination and please continue to support #hike4pennies



Read more about Eric’s journey and experiences at


To learn more about the Swifty Foundation, visit or connect on social media: Facebook or Twitter

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