Spring on Springer Mountain in Georgia means hitting the Appalachian Trail for thousands of people each year. Of those thousands, only about one in four actually go the distance. And now, there’s a team preparing to walk the 2,180 miles — this endeavor, however, is for a good cause.

According to Hike for the Wolves team members Paige Shivers and Charlotte Underwood — this hike is an effort to raise both awareness as well as funds for animal rescue and wolf conservancy. Shivers and Underwood continue to prepare — they depart Friday.

Underwood explained the pair will be accompanied by Rosa, a white German shepherd. The trip will take approximately six months to complete and will cross 14 states before hopefully summiting at Mount Katahdin in Maine. Both team members said the fundraising hike benefits Refuge Ridge — a nonprofit animal rescue in the Southern Appalachian Mountains.

Established in 2001, Refuge Ridge specializes in rescuing dogs and wolf-dogs which would otherwise be euthanized. Refuge Ridge has rescued wolf-dogs from all across the nation, including Ohio, Kentucky,Tennessee, California and others. But Underwood said that wasn’t all — cats and other animals have also been rescued by the organization.

Operated by founder Marty Wilson with the help of local volunteers, the rescue is in dire need of funding to provide continued support for the animals which currently reside at the refuge. The group also wants to continue to assist so additional animals can be rescued, Underwood added. Funds are also needed to finish a learning center — which, right now, is approximately 85 percent complete. Underwood said that once finished, the center will provide educational learning opportunities for youth regarding animal conservancy, as well as a healing environment for at-risk youth through an outdoor outreach program.

The hiking trio seeks pledges on a per-mile basis.

Underwood explained if someone wants to pledge a penny per mile and they make it all the way, the donation paid to Refuge Ridge would be $21.80. If they only make it 500 miles, then it would just be a $5 donation.

Underwood explained the hope is for some $1 per mile pledges — meaning if they succeed in completing the journey, it would be a $2,180 donation for Refuge Ridge. “(That) would help Refuge Ridge with their mission of ‘breaking the bars of apathy and poverty through action, education and nature,'” Underwood said.

According to the hiking team, the more pledges they can get, the more drive and determination they will have to walk the whole way to Maine. Underwood said she not only hopes to raise funds for Refuge Ridge so animal rescues can continue, she also hopes to bring awareness to the need for wolf conservation and basic animal rights. “It would be nice to lose some weight and gain some friends along the way,” Underwood said. Shivers said she hopes to spread awareness for the need of a balanced ecosystem, of which wolves and comparable large predators — like the killer whale — are a vital part.

For more information, contact Charlotte Underwood at 423-912-1948, or via email at char883@yahoo.com.

Interested persons may also visit Hike for the Wolves 2015 on Facebook.

Pledges can be made by calling the above number and leaving a message with the pledge amount and return contact information (phone signal might be scarce on the trail).

Pledges and direct donations can be made at www.Refugeridge.org via PayPal, or checks can be sent to Refuge Ridge Inc., P.O. Box 308 in Emlyn, KY 40730.

Refuge Ridge is a non-profit 501c(3) and donations are tax deductible.