Who We Are
In 2001, everything in the world was perfect or so it seemed.
I had been at my new job for just over a year and was doing well. Since I graduated from college in 1986, I had worked as a commercial mortgage banker and was recruited in mid 2000 to co-manage an office at GMAC Commercial mortgage. By most definitions, I was a success. We owned two homes - one in Philadelphia’s suburbs and one at the Jersey Shore.
My family life seemed perfect as well. I am married to a great woman who now is a full time home maker. I have three children: my oldest son jack (4 years old) is my miracle child, my daughter Julianna (3 years old) is daddy’s perfect little girl, and our baby Nate (1 year old) is a blond hair/blue eyed little rascal.
The summer of 2001 was the happiest time of our lives. As the summer ended, so did perfection. 9/11/01 changed our perspective on the world and provided us a glimpse of the pain life can offer.
Our last day of real happiness came on September 28, 2001 as we celebrated Julianna’s 3rd birthday with a big party capped off with Jules hammering open a huge green inch worm piñata with a purple baseball bat.
Ten days later, life as we know it came to an end when we were returning from an overnight trip from the beach on October 8, 2001 - Columbus Day. Denise and I were driving separately (I had Jack and Nate with me).
At about 4:30 in the afternoon, with Denise driving about 1/4 mile behind me, I was alerted to a driver of a flat bed truck slumped over the steering wheel careening from the opposite direction through the median of New Jersey State Route 55.
Thinking of Denise and Julianna I looked back in my side view mirror and instantly witnessed hell. The love of my life, Julianna, was gone forever. The five of us stayed on the side of this highway for more than four hours in a scene of utter chaos and pain. Despite this unfathomable and desperate situation, love and kindness emerged. Strangers tried to comfort us and an incredible couple read stories to the boys in our car.
Four days later, Denise and I were driven to Julianna’s Funeral mass. I was entering the church when my four buddies - Murph, Jeff, Dave and Joe gave me a hug and told me they loved me. I was lost and they knew it.
I had debated over the prior few days whether I was strong enough to say a few words about Julianna and express what she meant to our family. They told me I had to do it and I did. I have never thanked them for pushing me. Thank You.
This hike is for Julianna, but it is inspired by the love and kindness of all the people who have given to us when we needed it most. Through this hike and fund we are now trying to give something back.
Today, we live in Malvern, PA and have three of the happiest and kindest boys any parent could ever want. Our newest edition, Joey, was born in 2003. He has soft brown hair, brown eyes, an incredible spirit and looks just like his sister Julianna.
Dave was born and raised in the Philadelphia area – living in the towns of Wayne and Media for 40 years.
Seven years ago, Dave and his wife Donna, decided to experience living in a different part of the country, where their love of the outdoors would be at their doorstep. With daughter, Georgia, and son, Jesse, in tow, they drove across country and settled in the beautiful mountain town of Park City, Utah – where skiing, hiking, mountain biking and anything outdoors are a big part of their lives.
Dave is a partner in a family run direct-response marketing agency called IDR and started a western “office” for his company with the move. Donna is a Physical Education/Health teacher for the local middle school.
When the idea of hiking the AT to help raise monies for less fortunate people, especially children in need -- with three of my best friends, in memory of Julianna – was discussed in early ’03, I wanted to start the very next day. Murphy had come up with an idea, spurred on by his father’s dream to hike the AT, that truly resonated with all of us.
I was excited, but more importantly, I knew this would help ease the pain Steve and Denise were feeling each day. My good friend and his wife were suffering – and it pained me and my friends to see them in this state – the only thing we wanted to do was help in some way. This is our way!
I remember talking with Donna and detailing with excitement how beneficial this hike will be for everyone … and there is proof that with every step we take on the AT and every dollar raised, our journey, our adventure, our fundraising mission, is working.
We laugh, we sweat, we hurt and we cry together on this hike – all with a purpose … to keep Julianna’s memory alive and through her, to help others. Our goal is to complete the entire AT and to have our sons join us in future years.
I know this hike has helped the entire Doherty family and has kept Julianna’s memory strong -- and it has brought all of our families closer together in the process – and for that, I am truly thankful for being a part of the Julianna Hike!
Love you guys!
Murphy Barton “Barfy”
Too busy training to write up his bio.
Too busy training to write up his bio.