Morgan Scherer

Morgan Scherer and his dog, Niko. Photo by Adam Kent-Isaac


The idea came to Morgan Scherer, 17, during a run, but it developed into a plan to walk: specifically, to hike along the Appalachian Trail to raise money for an education program for orphans in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Training for a marathon a few years ago, Scherer experienced a moment of particular mental clarity, which he says is common when he runs. “Something gets on your mind and you have nothing else to do but think about it,” says the senior at Bloomington High School North.

What was on his mind was a desire to help those less fortunate than himself. “I’ve been so privileged with my life. My parents [Rick and Kim Scherer] have given me all the resources I need,” he says. Although gripped by this calling to do something, Scherer didn’t know what. “I wasn’t really sure where to go with it.”

By chance, his sister, Kaylie, an IU student, saw a message chalked on a campus sidewalk, advertising a call out for local nonprofit Giving Back to Africa. Morgan got in touch.

He threw himself into that organization with the same energy he brings to his other passions, running and golfing. He credits Ann Marie Thomson, co-founder of Giving Back to Africa, as his major inspiration. “Her experiences in Africa really spoke out to me,” Scherer says. He began working with the group on fundraising projects. He also took mission trips to Mexico and Guatemala, organized by Sherwood Oaks Christian Church, acquiring hands-on experience in humanitarian relief.

Beginning June 15, he will hike a 500-mile stretch of the Appalachian Trail from southwestern Vermont to northeastern Maine, with sponsors pledging anywhere from a penny to a dollar per mile walked.

“All the pledges and donations I’m getting will go straight to Giving Back to Africa,” says Scherer, who is financing the trek himself with money he earned as an at-home caregiver for the elderly. “I have an uncle who’s hiked the trail, I’ve read books about it, and my whole life I’ve wanted to do it,” he says. His goal is to average 15 miles a day over the course of six weeks, with a day off each week. He’ll be accompanied by his dog, Niko, who will carry his own food in a backpack.

To keep track of Scherer’s journey, follow his website.