Westmoreland team to tackle Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail as part of annual Crucible Hike
For Tina Grossman, the challenges of training for a 70-mile, three-day hike have been akin to the challenges life has thrown at her these past two years.
In that time span, she lost both her husband and her mother.
“This was my year of finding me,” she said. “I was struggling with self-confidence and who I was in the world, and this was my way of … moving forward.”
Grossman, a conference officer at Westmoreland County Domestic Relations, is one of 20 county government employees participating in the fifth annual Crucible Hike sponsored by the Veterans Leadership Program of Western Pennsylvania.
The hike, which runs from Friday to Sunday, is a fundraiser for the Pittsburgh-based nonprofit and its programs for military veterans. Participants will hike the Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail, starting at mile 70 in Seward and ending at mile zero in Ohiopyle State Park.
The event includes an 11-mile sprint at the end. Hikers will camp nightly along the trail, which has eight overnight areas equipped with fresh water, covered shelters, tent pads and comfort stations.
The Westmoreland County team, which calls itself the Westmoreland County Crucible Crew, has a fundraising goal of $10,000 and has already raised $7,846.
Team captain Shara Saveikis, executive director of the Westmoreland County Children’s Bureau, learned about the Crucible Hike last year and sent out an email to courthouse employees in February. Representatives from seven county departments, including Common Pleas Judge Tim Krieger, signed up to be part of the team.
Since then, they have trained almost every weekend on parts of the Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail.
“It’s been great,” Saveikis said. “I love seeing my colleagues, whom I normally see in the hallway, out on the trail.”
Saveikis, 48, has some experience with long-distance endurance. She has run two half-marathons. Grossman, 61, has virtually no experience, other than participating in a 5K run last Thanksgiving.
“When I look at the endurance side of this — our shortest day is 19 miles — I’ve had to ask myself, ‘Can I really do this?’ That was the challenge for me,” she said. “I do feel ready because of the amount of time our group has committed to training for this.”
Grossman has lost 60 pounds since she started training for the Crucible Hike.
“Tina has been an incredible inspiration to all of us,” Saveikis said. “On our hikes, she always takes the lead, sets our fast pace and makes sure our breaks are short. … She’s unstoppable.”
To donate to the Crucible Hike, go online at https://www.classy.org/team/222581, or send a check to: Veterans Leadership Program, 2934 Smallman St., Pittsburgh, PA 15201. Write “Westmoreland County Crew” in the subject line.
The Westmoreland County team currently is in second place, after the Chevron Veterans Network.
Stephen Huba is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Stephen at 724-850-1280, [email protected] or via Twitter .