BENNINGTON, V.T. (NEWS10) — Former volunteer fireman Rob Weisberg who survived the September 11th attacks is hiking the Appalachian Trail to raise money for veterans.
From fireman’s gear to hiking gear, Weisberg is braving the leaps and bounds of the Appalachian Trail to raise money for Paws of War. It’s a charity that provides service dogs to veterans who are suffering with PTSD, free of charge.
When he’s not sleeping in a hostel, a sleeping bag, a tent, and a gas can stove are make up his “apartment”.
“My sleeping bag, my gear to keep me warm, my tent, food” he showed us.
Rob started the journey in Georgia back in March. Carrying 43 pounds of gear and averaging 15 miles a day, Weisberg has been hiking ever since. He’s down to his fourth pair of boots.
“When it comes to boots, my plan is about 500 miles per pair of boots”, Weisberg explained.
His cause hits close to home. For the last 22 years, Rob too has been carrying the much heavier weight of post traumatic stress disorder on his shoulders.
On 9/11 Weisberg was working a finance job in Lower Manhattan. But instead of evacuating, the volunteer firefighter from Long Island went into action. He became trapped in a firehouse when the World Trade Center towers collapsed.
“The towers came down and then it spread sideways, we got trapped when everything went sideways,” the firefighter explained to us.
Fortunately Weisberg was able to escape. He says hiking the trail has been just that for dealing with PTSD, a condition that nearly pushed him to suicide.
The trail is such a workout, that the 55 year old lost 55 pounds. He’s burned over 5000 calories along the 2000 plus mile journey.
Weisberg has battled many obstacles including our recent heavy rains. Rob’s journey means a lot to the man escorting him in Bennington, fellow firefighter Captain William Clark, who’s been dealing with storm clouds of his own.
“I’ve suffered with PTSD, it hit home with me, so I have to help somebody out”. ” said the captain.
Rob hopes to finish his journey on September 11th, but that date has been pushed back to the end of that month.
“When it comes to PTSD, for every 20 years I kept it quiet and I’m tired of it”, said Rob.
Rob encouraged others like himself, to get help.
If you or someone you know are having thoughts of suicide, help is always available by calling 9-88, or texting 741-741. You will be connected with a trained crisis counselor, both resources are free, available 24/7 and confidential.