Carrying a friend on a ten-mile mountain hike under the hot summer sun may not sound like a great way to spend a day of youth conference, but Todd Beam and Zach Reed of the Seattle Washington Shoreline Stake did just that. The hike would have been nearly impossible for their friend, Travis Freeman, because of physical impairments that require him to walk with crutches. Impossible, that is, without the help of a few good friends.
“Zach and I were on the committee that planned the youth conference. We wanted Travis to be with us,” says Todd. “We just had to figure out a way.”
With the help of a friend, Todd’s dad built a sort of cart with a seat in the middle for Todd and Zach to carry Travis up the mountainside. Dubbed the “Travis Trolley” it became a symbol for the conference, which focused on overcoming trials and giving service.
“I actually think it was harder for Travis than it was for Zach or me,” says Todd. “He had to hold himself up the whole time, and that was hard work.”
Travis, Todd, and Zach were put in the first of eight hike groups, so that if they fell behind, there would be seven more groups of youth and leaders to assist them. Trailing just slightly behind them was another boy, Layne Mohlman, who carried Travis’s crutches to be used at the conclusion of the hike. Even when the handles came off the cart three quarters of the way to the final destination, the boys didn’t give up. Zach carried Travis the rest of the way on his back!
The hike concluded in a large meadow, which, Todd reports, “felt just like coming into the promised land.” Though all the boys were tired, they were happy and proud of their accomplishments. Best of all, Travis had been able to experience the first true hike of his life.
All participants in the conference were given bracelets to wear as a reminder of the theme of the conference. The inscription on the bracelets read: “All these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good. The Son of Man hath descended below them all. Art thou greater than he? Therefore, hold on thy way” (D&C 122:7–9).
As Zach, Todd, Layne, and Travis learned, sometimes, “holding on thy way” means holding on to a friend.