The Julianna Hike Fund

JulianaA Donor Advised Fund

Established in 2002, this fund honors the memory of a vibrant three-year-old by supporting nonprofits that help grieving families.

The Difference It Makes

A parent’s grief at the loss of a child can feel overwhelming. Friends wonder how to help.

That was the situation facing Steve and Denise Doherty after their beloved “Jules” passed away in a 2001 automobile accident.

Out of a father’s love for his daughter and the love of friends who wanted to help their buddy survive, The Julianna Hike Fund was created.

Each year, four friends take a week to walk the Appalachian Trail to share time together, reflect on nature and loved ones, and to build dollars to help others who are grieving.

Juliana Hike participantsA Path Through Pain

Through sponsorships and donations to the fund, the hikers have donated more than $650,000 to help those experiencing grief.

The Philadelphia Foundation has guided them to organizations including The Center for Grieving Children and the Breathing Room Foundation, which helps families affected by cancer.
The fund also supports other nonprofits with a focus on assisting children who are struggling in life.

Easy online donations to the fund allow for easy sponsorship contributions, so the foursome can focus on planning the next leg of their journey.

Because the dollars in the fund will grow through prudent investment over time, the fund’s impact -- and Julianna’s memory – will endure.

Everyone who has shown interest and sponsored us has helped us heal, and more importantly helped keep Julianna’s love alive.”

- Steve Doherty, fund co-founder

Preserving Memories While Making New Ones

Time on the trail allows Steve time to reflect on his brief time with Julianna. The threat of encountering a bear, for example, may remind him of “Little Bear,” the last TV show they watched together.

However, time spent with his buddies has also allowed him to create new memories – of fun on those parts of the trail that were easier than others, and ways they helped each other through the difficult sections.

An Ongoing Journey

The friends plan to hike all 2,184 miles of the Appalachian Trail together. At the rate of about 90 miles a year, with the progress they have made to date, that could take them until 2026.

As they hike, they’ll continue to reflect on enduring bonds, overcoming physical and emotional pain, and appreciating time spent together.

Life, like a trail, has many twists and turns. If you’re lucky, it also provides breathtaking views of how far you’ve come and a sense of accomplishment regarding the difference you have made in the lives of others.


Learn how you can establish or support funds like this:
Call 215-563-6417 or email us.

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