Horizon Hustle

Welcome to the Horizon Hustle! 
A benefit for Horizon Day Camp and a "Walk Your Way" event within the HorizonWALKS Campaign

Thank you for supporting Peter Watts in his 500 mile cycling trek throughout the state of Maryland, raising critical funds for Horizon Day Camp!

The Horizon Hustle was a huge success, raising $38,000 towards Peter's $50,000 goal.

Peter Watts is a seasoned endurance athlete, skilled photographer, a sports massage therapist, and has a huge heart for our Horizon families. All proceeds raised through his incredible volunteer efforts will bring joy to Maryland and DC-area children with cancer and their siblings!

Horizon Day Camp is a local non-profit organization that serves Maryland and Washington D.C. area children, including siblings, who are dealing with pediatric cancer. Horizon programming includes a free, full-summer day camp and year-round in-hospital and recreational programs - all offered completely free of charge. Horizon Day Camp is 100% philanthropically funded and relies on amazing community supporters like Peter Watts and friends!

Follow Peter on his journey via social media!
Instagram: @peterhwatts
And join his HorizonWALKS team, The Five Arrows here: https://www.sunrise-walks.org/baltimore/Team/View/146807/The-Five-Arrows

Horizon Day Camp
Instagram: @horizondaycamp
Facebook: Horizon Day Camp-Baltimore


A special note from Peter

It was hot. Hot and humid. Basically, it was your standard early August Sunday in Maryland. I don’t know if 2018 was more or less hot than other years, but it sure felt hotter.

I was standing on the top of Wisp mountain as far west as you could go in the state. The Maryland Trek team was about to start its 329 mile walk and bike across the state - a benefit for Just In Power Kids. It was my first year joining Justin Berk and a handful of fundraisers participating in the ultra endurance event which raised money for children with cancer.

Each day I would walk 24 miles then ride for 20+ miles on the bike. By the end of the first day both feet had stress fractures, and it was nearly impossible to walk. The rest of the week was probably one of the most intense sufferfests in which I had ever participated. The days were hot and grueling. It was one of the best weeks of my life.

Being perfectly honest, my first foray into the world of fundraising was more about me wanting to see if I could accomplish the physical challenge. It wasn’t until I started to meet some of the children that benefited when things began to change for me.

In 2019 I was back on the top of WISP mountain and properly trained. I was determined to not only raise more money but be more vocal. Boosting visibility for the event led to more awareness of the nonprofit, and it allowed us to serve more children and their families.

As our team arrived in Ellicott City, MD, a torrential downpour swept through the area and we took shelter in a local bike shop. That's where I met Nic, one of the kids we honored on the trek. He was living with extended family in Maryland while getting treatment, which meant he had left his friends and family back in Alaska. He and I hit it off. He told me he was studying Spanish and we instantly bonded when I told him I lived in Mexico for two years. I tested his Spanish and he tested mine. We joked a lot and quickly found we had the same sense of humor.

Without a doubt, meeting Nic was the highlight of that year's trek. When I learned that he passed away the following year, the floor dropped out from under my heart. I still feel that loss. I think about him every time I ride. Every time.

Fast forward to 2020 I was invited to serve as the event director for the same event. I was thrilled to take on a leadership role and support other trekkers. COVID provided a lot of unique challenges that required some ingenuity to overcome. We managed to organize and execute the event without one participant being exposed to COVID which we considered a huge success. Our team was less than half the size from the prior year, but we managed to nearly match the previous year's fundraising total.

The success of the 2020 Maryland Trek and an understanding that these families were in crisis with real struggles just triggered something in me. I wanted to do more. I found an opportunity to do something bigger. I linked up with the Cleveland Clinic and crafted a solo event in which I rode my bike unsupported 418 miles from Cleveland, OH to Maple Lawn, MD. The solo attempt brought in $27,000 and was one of the most challenging 4 days of my life.

Now as far as WHY I approached Horizon Day Camp to pilot an endurance ride around the state of Maryland, it lies simply in the fact that nearly every family that is supported by the other nonprofits with whom I am in contact ALL absolutely LOVE the camp. Dealing with a child who has cancer brings an unimaginable strain on the family. Having a free, properly staffed day camp for their child and siblings is an invaluable service.

In October, I volunteered at HorizonWALKS - one of Horizon Day Camp's signature community events. I had a chance to meet some of the Horizon children. Later in the year, I took part in a holiday gift drive campaign for Horizon. These interactions and activities only inspired me further. The kids are so resilient, so happy. If I can help bring them joy, I'm all in.

Now, it is true that riding my bike will not save lives. The funds I raise will not guarantee the successful treatment of the children I’m hoping to support.

However, what it will do is work toward providing the children and their families with a little bit of a reprieve from the demands that go with a childhood cancer diagnosis. It will demonstrate that someone cares. To me that is most certainly worth me spending a week riding around this beautiful state raising funds and sharing my adventure with you. Horizon is all about providing normative childhood experiences for the children they serve - whether through the summer camp experience or the in-hospital and recreational programs that take place year-round. I also want to emphasize that Horizon programming is free for families. It is my honor to support this amazing mission - which simply said is to help restore the joys of childhood for these cancer fighters.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read this and hear about why I’m about to ride my bike 500 miles in seven days. This trip will not be easy, but there is nothing easy about being a child who is dealing with pediatric cancer - either as a primary child or sibling. They inspire me, and it is my hope that this biking experience will inspire you to help Horizon Day Camp.

This ride is dedicated to Nic, his family, and all of those who have sat by their child's hospital bed wondering if anyone cares about what’s happening to them.

We do. Help me show them that we do.

In health,

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