September 10, 2004

Medical students complete grueling ‘Hike for HIV’

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Thomas Hazinski, M.D., assocaite chair of Pedicatrics and director of Pediatric Pulmonary Medicine, gets fit tested for the N-95 respirator. Photo by Mary Donaldson

Second-year medical students Joshua Bress and Kevin Elias have returned to classes, but they wouldn’t exactly refer to their summer as a “vacation.”

After finals in May, the two students began a grueling hike for charity that lasted 80 days. Bress and Elias traveled 1,723 miles along the Pacific Crest Trail to draw attention to HIV/AIDS prevention and education. Their Hike for HIV wasn’t easy.

The students averaged 24 miles a day, hiking in the searing heat of the Mojave Desert and freezing temperatures in altitudes reaching 14,000 feet. They lost their food supply to a 700 pound bear, listened to the music of rattlesnakes and felt the sting of various types of flies and mosquitoes. But they also made a big contribution to a local charity.

Bress and Elias returned in early August, having raised over $10,000 for Nashville Cares, Middle Tennessee’s leading community-based AIDS service organization. They will serve as the first walkers for the 2004 AIDS Walk, which will take place Oct. 9.

For more information on the walk, visit