Meet Noah Myers, the Autistic Tennessee Teen Who Hiked 100 Miles in the Great Smoky Mountains
How's this for feel-good inspiration? 17-year-old Noah Myers has hiked 100 miles in the Great Smoky Mountains. An impressive feat for anyone, but especially impressive for Noah, who has autism and is nonverbal.
"He's autistic, and he doesn't like things that challenge him. And then we said, 'you know, he's old enough to understand that sometimes you just gotta do hard things'" Noah's mother Angela Miles told Knoxville, Tennessee's WBIR-TV.
Noah, his mom, and stepfather have been hiking for the past 10 years, and the boy's parents have been able to use natural water features along the trails an incentive to motivate him. "He loves water. He absolutely loves water. So we used hiking to waterfalls as a reward," Miles shared
"We get excited to see him explore the world through his eyes because he looks at everything so different. So, it's a good bonding [experience]. Not only that, but he can be himself. If he has a meltdown, we just sit down and let him work through it," Miles said. Now, by hitting 100 miles and receiving his commemorative pin, the Eastern Tennessee teen has fulfilled quite the accomplishment, not only for him, but as an ambassador of those in the autism community.
Miles also reflected on her gratitude for the hikers they've met along the way: "They just say, 'you'll get through it. Just give him a minute.' And, they've offered 'does he need an extra water?' or 'hey, I've got a thing of bubbles. Does he want some bubbles to play with?' They're not judging. They're offering any help that they can. I've had them sit down with him on the trail and just sit there and not say a word, and then he just works through it and looks at 'em like, "oh where did you come from?'" Miles said.
"We really like blew it out of proportion. We just kept telling him how proud we were of him, and he will point to his little pin...like he knows he's earned that. He understands that part," Miles said.
Here's to the next 100 miles, Noah and crew!