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Raleigh hiker's next journey will raise money for Triangle nonprofit

Posted March 25

Craig Dunkley has been hiking for 20 years, but recently, his admittedly selfish hobby turned into a selfless way to help others.

Dunkley said he isn't sure how many miles he's hiked in the last couple of decades, but he knows it's an impressive number.

"It's well over a thousand," he said.

The reasons for the hikes are many. Dunkley enjoys the scenery, the time alone and the chance to get away from the "rat race," as he calls it.

Sometimes he hikes alone, but often Dunkley is with friends. And he always carries along his camera.

"There's just a lot to love about it," he said. "Even if there is cellphone connection, I'll turn it off anyway, but a lot of time there is really spotty connection. I'm OK with that."

But even with all of the hiking accomplishments, Dunkley said he knew something was missing.

"It kinds of hit me on the trail one day. I'm the only guy benefiting from that," he said. "There's got to be a way to take something I enjoy and channel it into a way to help other people."

That's exactly what Dunkley is doing.

He's decided that every step he takes on his next hike will help StepUp Ministries, a nonprofit that helps people find and keep jobs.

"I love the work they do," he said. "Helping people build stability back into their lives, get back into that job market and on to a career path. It's just phenomenal."

Dunkley will take on the Art Loeb Trail next month, a difficult hike meant to mirror the difficult challenges many face while hunting for jobs.

"The Art Loeb Trail really seemed to fit the bill. A 30-mile trail that runs from Brevard, up over a number of 6,000-foot peaks, past Cold Mountain, and you've got 360-degree panoramas all around," Dunkley said.

Dunkley has raised $3,000 for his hike so far, which can help three people go through the program, and StepUp Ministries is accepting donations online.

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