Man to hike miles for child abuse awareness - News, Weather & Sports

Man to hike miles for child abuse awareness

Ricky Harney Ricky Harney
Karlie Mellick (Source: Family photo) Karlie Mellick (Source: Family photo)

CLERMONT, KY (WAVE) – More than 1,600 children die a year from neglect and abuse, an issue that is 100% preventable and needs attention.

Wednesday morning, after training for three months in Bernheim Forest, Ricky Harney left for his journey where he will hike more than 2,500 miles to raise awareness for child abuse with Kosair Children's Hospital.

"It's a subject that people don't want to talk about because it's so unthinkable but we need but we need to talk about it for something to be done," Harney said. "This is the first time I've done something this absurd."

Harney will hike 2,663 miles on the Pacific Crest Trail. The trail is from the Mexican border to the Canadian border. It will be an incredible challenge and a daunting 180 days with only the basic necessities on his back, but it's such a massive hike it's exactly what Harney thinks will get people to stop and think about his mission, raising awareness on child abuse.

Harney has always wanted to hike 1,000 miles and when he was talking to his friend from Louisville she suggested he did it for charity. She told him of her distant relative, 9 month old Karlie Mellick who was beaten to death by a family friend who was watching her in 2009. It was then he decided to contact Kosair Children's Hospital.

"It's ok to step away," Harney said. "You know that's really one big point on the campaign. It's ok to step away. If you're a parent and you have a screaming child, and I think we've all been there whether or not you're a parent, it's overwhelming. It's ok to just step away for a minute to gather yourself."

Harney said he was in disbelief how Karlie's family acted in such a vulnerable moment.

"She wasn't going to make it but Kara, the mother, made the decision to donate organs," Harney said. "I saw footage of a little boy, Allison with a stethoscope listening to her granddaughter's heartbeat in a little boy's chest, and that's what got me."

Harney said it will take him about 180 days and he will try for about 15 miles a day.

Already a wildlife photographer, Harney will take photographs of wildlife as he makes his way through the trail and those images will be available for purchase. The images will also be on merchandise like mugs and mouse pads.

Donations go to the Partnership to Eliminate Child Abuse, led by Kosair Children's Hospital, which will provide education and tools to stop the abuse. Funds raised will go through the Children's Hospital Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Kosair Children's Hospital.

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