When I was young, I had two classmates who knew what they wanted to be when they grew up. Not fireman or astronauts, but would you believe car racing and comic books?
Bill Riley used to love talking about cars. Racing cars, technology, etc. His dad was in the business and Bill knew exactly what he wanted to do when he grew up. Currently, Bill is the President of Riley Technologies, headquartered out of Mooresville, North Carolina. Their focus: design and manufacture of complete race cars and prototype development for both racing and manufacturing. http://www.drivesrt.com/racing/team-members/bill-riley/
Evan Derian grew up drawing (extremely well, I might add) members of the band KISS. His drawings were SO spot on; his talent obvious. I didn’t know much about that band in middle school, but I certainly could have recognized any one of their members, thanks to Evan! Fast forward, Evan pursued his dream and is now a graphic designer with his own line of graphic novel/comic books (‘Miserable Americans’ is his current series). Just this past spring, Evan participated in his seventh Motor City Comic Con where he debuted his third book in the ‘Miserable Americans’ series. http://evanderian.com/
How great to know what you wanted to do at such a young age and following that dream! Unfortunately, many of us didn’t know what we wanted to be when we grew up. I don’t even think I knew what a Recruiter was at age twelve! How could I have planned that as a career path? Time, career evolution and an ever-changing job market led me here. I’m sure others have a similar, roundabout way of coming into their own as well.
Another classmate, Chris Hillier, is someone I’d put into the latter category. I don’t remember if/what he wanted to be when he grew up, or if even he knew at the time. Through a serious of personal journeys, Chris ended up back home and needed to take a break. He started hiking and hasn’t stopped. Over the past few years, Chris has completed the trifecta of trails: Appalachian Trail, Pacific Crest Trail and most recently the Continental Divide Trail. In between major hikes, Chris was also the first to hike the Ironwood Trail and the Great Lake to Lake Trail here in Michigan. In between those hikes, Chris hikes for fun. He regularly gathers up friends old and new, and sets out on day hikes. Those hikes always end at a local watering hole (I’m trying to be rustic and in the spirit of things, but a ‘watering hole’ in Metro Detroit is basically a bar/restaurant) with even more people in attendance.
What does Chris’ hiking have to do with following his dream? Everything. Chris recently put together his application for Backpacker Magazines’ Ambassador for their ‘Get Out More Tour’. In this role, Chris would travel around the country speaking about hiking and encouraging others to get out and explore. What a dream job for him! I know he has the experience and I’ve heard him speak at the Dearborn Heights library before he left on the CDT hike this spring. Talk about motivational! There is something about listening to him talk about his travels, the people he meets and the wonders of nature as he hikes from one remote location to another. Not only am I fascinated with his love of what he does, but with the support that he has from friends and family to help him in his hikes. He has many supporters who help him with resupply, moral support and places to stay when he’s not hiking.
I don’t think Chris intended to be the motivator he is, or Bill or Evan either. I think Chris wanted to get away and figure things out and hiking allowed him to do this. Discovering his love for hiking, his ability to be a motivator and his passion for nature and the people he meets were simply byproducts. If he can turn this passion into a career, that’s even better. I can’t think of anyone who wouldn’t benefit from meeting Chris. His talks are standing room only and the conversation just flows. The more people around the country that have the opportunity to meet Chris and hear him talk about his hikes, the more people will get out and hike.
My son is approximately the same age as I was when I met Bill, Evan and Chris. I often tell him (my son) that the kids you are in school with are going to be your friends for life. As you get older, you may not be in contact every day, or even every year, but these people will have helped make up the person you will one day become. Fortunately for me, I grew up with some pretty terrific people. I know others have benefited from Bill’s hard work and engineering, Evan’s comic book/graphic design genius and now Chris’ passion for the outdoors. Each motivators in their own right, and each, an unintentional motivator.
Chris Hillier’s trail name is Wolverine. If you google him, I’m sure you can find various articles about him and different things he’s done. I’ve attached a link to the video for the 2013 Veteran of the Year Award through the Governor’s Fitness Awards. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N2ErYwo-G_s&feature=youtu.be. I’m also attaching the link to his blog. If you are interested in reading more about his hikes, please feel free to check out his blog. http://wolverinecdt.blogspot.com/. You are welcome to comment on his blog if you find his story motivating for you!