When their two daughters were younger, Carol and Bob Leone spent much of their free time outdoors; hiking, biking, skiing, whatever. They assumed every Maine family did the same.
It wasn’t until their youngest daughter died and they were looking for a way to turn their grief into something positive that they realized that wasn’t the case. So they founded Teen to Trails as a way to encourage young people to love the outdoors, something that has become challenging in an increasingly digital world.
“All you need to do it get them outside, though. It sells itself,” Carol Leone, 61, said.
Teens To Trails also serves as living, breathing tribute to Sara Leone, who was killed in a car accident almost seven years ago. She was 15. Her mother said Sara loved being outdoors. It was a part of who she was.
Now, her parents spend countless hours and have nearly drained their savings account to promote outdoor activities for other Maine teens through their nonprofit organization.
When Carol first started calling schools to ask it they had outing clubs, the typical response was, “A what?” In five years, Teens to Trails has helped established 75 outing clubs at high schools. Carol said her goal is to have one in each Maine schools.
“Then I’ll move on to the middle schools,” she said.
The couple hasn’t done it alone. After Sara died, Carol said she and her husband, “needed to surround ourselves with people who were doing great things.”
The founding board members of Teens To Trails and its supporters over the years have matched the Leones’ passion.
And that’s how they keep going, Carol said. That’s how they survive. That’s how Sara lives on.