Hikers will honor a young Massachusetts woman who died in New Hampshire by climbing multiple peaks this summer and raising funds for a foundation created by her family.
The event, dubbed “Emily’s Hike To Save a Life” is set for July 29, with proceeds going to the Emily M. Sotelo Persistence and Safety Charitable Foundation, hiking safety initiatives and search and rescue teams. It’s being organized by Hiking Buddies NH 48, a nonprofit group that connects people interested in hiking the 48 mountains taller than 4,000 feet (about 1,220 meters) in New Hampshire.
Sotelo, of Westford, Massachusetts, disappeared on Mount Lafayette on Nov. 20. Her body was found three days later, on what would have been her 20th birthday. Though she had nearly completed her quest to summit all 48 peaks, she had almost no experience with winter hiking, and officials say she was woefully unprepared for the brutal conditions that killed her.
In a video to promote the fundraiser, Sotelo’s mother said the outpouring of support from the hiking community helped her in the dark days after her daughter’s death.
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“I had a lot of support from work, from friends, from family. But the overwhelming support from people who did not know her, and their pain and their willingness to do anything for her, were empowering,” Olivera Sotelo said.
Emily Sotelo was a sophomore at Vanderbilt University who hoped to become a doctor. In an interview with The Associated Press in December, her family said she was determined to make the world a better place.
“Seeing people rally to save a life would make Emily very proud of the whole community," her mother said in the video for the fundraising event.
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Benjamin Pease, founder of Hiking Buddies, said Sotelo’s death shook his community, spurring calls for action.
“This is our opportunity. We’re going to finish Emily’s hike,” he said.