Kellerman, co-owner of Mel’s Lone Star Lanes, spent 161 days thru-hiking—walking from end-to-end in one trip—the 2,192-mile trail, which runs through 14 states from Georgia to Maine. Kellerman began the trail April 2 in Georgia and reached the top of Mount Katahdin in Maine on Sept. 9.
In 2018, the trail had a 19% completion rate, according to the Appalachian Trail Conservancy.
“[Hiking the trail] was just one of those things that was there and I wanted to do it,” Kellerman said.
But Kellerman said he knew if he was going to leave his job for five to six months it would have to be for a cause, so he decided to make a national fundraiser out of his trip and raise money for Bowl for Veterans, an organization he has worked with many times through his business. At the end, Kellerman’s journey raised $80,000 for veterans.
“I did not serve, [and] I don’t come from a military family. To me, this is a way of paying back for what they have done for me, done for my family and for my business and our community here in Georgetown,” Kellerman said.
On the trail, Kellerman went by the trail name Kilroy, a reference to the popular World War II American symbol “Kilroy was here”.
It was not easy, Kellerman said, adding that it was day in and day out of tackling hills, rocks, swamps, mud, bugs, heat and rain for months on end, amounting to a psychological feat as much as physical. But even on the hard days, he said he knew he was doing it for something bigger than himself.
“Not to say I didn’t have my moments of weakness,” Kellerman said. “But it was the raising the money for the veterans that kept me going.”
And while the trip resulted in beautiful photos and great friendships—including Small Slice and Wilson—two hikers he met on the trail in Pennsylvania and hiked with until the end, he is happy to be home.
“It was a great experience,” Kellerman said. “I am so grateful for all the support and prayers I received, but I am very glad to be back in Georgetown, Texas.”