Last Updated: August 12, 2022
Over the next few months, we will provide an opportunity to follow the FOC steps that we are contributing to the #5MillionSteps for kids fighting cancer goal this year. FOC will cover steps, mountains and four New England states as well as some interesting facts along the way for our geography lovers out there.
This journey began with a young boy named Cole, continued with the dedication of his father, Tony, and now is being carried on this summer by a group of people supporting Tony during a time that he cannot make physical steps. One person in that group is FOC Director of Strategic Marketing’s son, Kelly Skelton. Kelly has also been a marketing contractor for special projects at FOC over the years and is considered a part of the FOC family.
Cole Stoddard was an amazing young boy who loved the outdoors. From the moment he woke up each day he would ask to go outside and play, climb in trees, or hike in the woods of New Hampshire. His energy was boundless, and his passion for life was immense.
In April of 2010, Tony Stoddard, Cole’s father, received the devastating news that his son had cancer.
Even after he began chemotherapy and radiation treatments, that took his energy, Cole found great pleasure in being outside playing in the autumn leaves or in winter snow.
One day Tony was sitting beside Cole in the hospital and asked him if he still wanted to be a firefighter or policeman when he grew up. Cole quietly responded, “I’m not going to grow up to do anything.” At that moment, Tony promised Cole he would do “Something Big” someday. When Cole asked what that would be, Tony admitted “I don’t know yet but you will do something big, Cole”.
Cole fought bravely for a year and a half through all efforts to save him, but sadly lost his battle against neuroblastoma cancer on January 20th, 2012 at the age of 5.
Tony Stoddard’s steps since January of 2012 have included awareness, fundraising and research.
After years of building awareness for childhood cancer that have included a wider adoption of the gold ribbon symbol, events around Childhood Cancer Awareness Month of September and the gold lighting of bridges, buildings, and landmarks across the United States, the movement has increased across the United States and to other countries such as Ireland, England, Australia, and Switzerland.
Additionally, Tony is the Executive Director of Sophia’s Fund, a 501c3 Non-Profit Organization donation-driven to provide financial support to children undergoing cancer treatments and their families. Sophia’s Fund is also in the battle to help increase childhood cancer awareness, funding, and research.
The National Cancer Institute allocates less than 4% of its cancer research budget to childhood cancers…. the #1 killer (by disease) of children in the United States. Research funding must come from other heroic efforts which brings us to the current challenge…. #5MillionSteps that was going to happen on the Appalachian Trail.
Having heard that it takes approximately 5 million steps to finish the Appalachian Trail, a mission called #5MillionSteps for kids fighting cancer was born last year with a plan to raise one dollar for each step and a total of $5 million dollars to help fund promising childhood cancer research initiatives.
Last year, on April 15th, 2017, Tony Stoddard began the epic journey and FOC was a sponsor as he attempted to hike the entire 2,200-mile distance of the Appalachian Trail, the longest “hiking-only” footpath in the world through 14 states. The elevation gain/loss of hiking the entire Appalachian Trail is the equivalent of climbing Mount Everest 16 times.
After taking more than 1 million steps over treacherous terrain, over numerous mountains, through many types of harsh weather, Tony was injured at the 300-mile mark and eventually had to return home for medical treatment for his knee, vowing to complete the AT in 2018.
We were all looking forward to April 2018 and supporting Tony hiking the 2,200 miles that does work out to 5 Million Steps. On March 26, 2018, Tony was diagnosed with colorectal cancer putting his #5MillionSteps on hold.
Everyone involved in this journey is devastated with this news but there are some amazing people stepping up. Currently Everett Smith, a fellow childhood cancer advocate from California, who had joined Tony last year, is hiking the trail now and continuing on for Tony and the children. Recently Everett was joined by fellow advocate Alexis O Sullivan who flew in from Ireland to take part on this mission, meeting in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia and they are heading north now.
While Tony is fighting his own battle with cancer (with the same determination he had battling the treacherous terrain and dangerous weather conditions on the Appalachian Trail) in and out of the hospital for several months receiving chemotherapy, radiation, and surgeries, we are stepping up too to help him meet this goal and we will all collectively complete the journey of #5MillionSteps.
In honor of this day one year ago, July 1, 2017, when Tony reached the “1 million steps” mark on the Appalachian Trail,
FOC’s Kelly Skelton is kicking off his 10-4 campaign: Ten Mountains * Four States * One Goal on the 4th of July, pledging to hike:
Massachusetts, Mount Greylock
Mount Greylock is the highest natural point in Massachusetts at 3,489 feet (1,063 m). Its peak is located in the northwest corner of the state in the western part of the town of Adams in Berkshire County. The mountain is known for its expansive views encompassing five states.
Vermont, Mount Mansfield
Mount Mansfield is the highest mountain in Vermont with a summit that peaks at 4,395 feet (1,340 m) above sea level.
Mount Mansfield is one of three spots in Vermont where true alpine tundra survives from the Ice Ages. Mount Mansfield’s summit still holds about 200 acre.
New York, Mount Marcy
Mount Marcy is the highest point in New York State, with an elevation of 5,343 feet (1,629 m). The mountain is in the heart of the Adirondack High Peaks Region of the High Peaks Wilderness Area.
New Hampshire, Mount Osceola
Mount Osceola is a 4,315-foot (1,315 m) peak within the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Located in the White Mountain National Forest, Mount Osceola is named for the early-19th century Seminole leader. Views from the summit cover a large portion of the White Mountains, extending from Mount Washington in the northeast to the town of Waterville Valley in the south.
New Hampshire, Presidential Traverse
Presidential Traverse is a dangerous trek over the Presidential Range of New Hampshire’s White Mountains. The Presidential Range is a string of summits in excess of 4,000 feet (1,200 m). To complete the traverse, one must begin at either the northern or southern terminus of the Presidential Range and finish at the opposing end. A hiker making such a journey would travel about 23 miles (37 km), with 9,000 feet (2,700 m) of elevation gain. By definition, a “presidential” traverse requires a participant to cross over the summits of peaks named after U.S. presidents. Listed from north to south, they are:
Mount Madison - named after James Madison, Mount Adams - named after John Adams, Mount Jefferson - named after Thomas Jefferson, Mount Washington - named after George Washington and Mount Eisenhower - named after Dwight Eisenhower.
10th Mountain Hike TBD – it will be a surprise……
Follow Kelly’s hikes over the next few months on our twitter @FiberOptic Center and the FOC Facebook Page.
For anyone wishing to donate to the #5MillionSteps, visit WWW.SOPHIASFUND.ORG where the Donate button links directly to PayPal. Please use the optional note area to let them know which hike or step you are funding!
Additionally, all good wishes can be emailed to Tony at: firstname.lastname@example.org
FOC was founded in New Bedford, MA, USA, in “the city that lit the world” and continues the new traditions of lighting the world, through both its global business footprint and community involvement and support. The history of the city that lit the world can be found on Our Home page.
As Winston Churchill said, “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” At FOC, we are each very lucky to be a part of a business that is a community within itself and one that supports the balance of work, passion, life, and making a difference in our worlds.