Pastor Tom Hafer, director of spiritual services for Gulf Coast Village in Cape Coral and ordained minister with Volunteers of America (VOA), will begin a 2,190-mile journey along the Appalachian Trail, beginning April 24 at Springer Mountain in Georgia and concluding October 15 at Mount Katahdin in Maine. Following his motto, “care for yourself to better care for others,” Hafer will take on a six-month journey dedicated to mental, physical and spiritual well-being.
“Intense ongoing physical exertion for months on end through unspoiled woods alone in silent contemplation, teaches a person to travel light. One can no longer carry the heavy baggage that weighs him down,” Hafer said. “Mentally, he learns to let go of anxiety, fear, hostility or shame. Physically, he corrects the effects of obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, addictions or other chronic ailments. Living simply and intentionally with less than forty pounds of worldly possessions – in the present moment, with purpose, and without distractions – forces change. We can all live “well” once we let go and travel light.”
Taking on the Appalachian Trail is no easy feat for a man in his 50s. According to the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, only about one in four people complete the entire trail from start to finish. To complete the thru-hike journey within six months, Hafer will hike approximately 15-20 miles each day, and will follow a special diet that will replenish the additional calories he will burn on a daily basis. The journey will serve as inspiration for Hafer’s future fifth book, informally titled “Ramble On.” People can follow along Hafer’s journey via Facebook at www.facebook.com/TomHaferSpeaker.
In addition to his pastoral duties at Gulf Coast Village, Hafer is a speaker and published author. Since the original release of his first book, Faith & Fitness in 2007, Hafer has been traveling and leading workshops on the spiritual and physical health connection. He offers workshops free of charge, compliments of Volunteers of America (VOA), in support of their efforts to prevent early disabilities for the nation’s seniors. Well Planet (2010), Aging Grace (2012) and Soul Man (2016) were Hafer’s follow-up titles.
Hafer received his Bachelor’s degree from Florida A & M University in Physical Therapy and has been a licensed Physical Therapist in Florida for over 25 years. He attended the Lutheran Theological Seminary of Philadelphia and received a Masters’ degree in Religion in 2006. Hafer lives with his wife of 26 years on a three-acre gentleman’s farm in Southwest Florida where they grow their own organic produce and citrus, and offer special celebration and wellness events to the local community. The couple has three grown children. The oldest is a Special Education teacher in Lee County, the middle is a U.S. Marine, and their youngest is pursuing her degree to become a Registered Nurse.
To learn more about Hafer visit www.tomhafer.com.