Brad Ryan, 41, and his 92-year-old grandmother, Joy Ryan, are nearing the finish line on a goal they once thought was impossible: visiting all 63 U.S. national parks together.
The duo from Duncan Falls, Ohio, kicked off their adventure in October 2015, when Brad was looking for a way to spend a three-day weekend during veterinary school. He said the idea was sparked by a conversation he had with “Grandma Joy” about his past adventures on the Appalachian Trail.
“I felt bad that she was always living vicariously through my stories,” Brad told “GMA.” “And so just knowing that she had never seen deserts and mountains and the ocean and these incredible wild places on Earth, it just felt like a responsibility that I had to her to make sure that she had some memories to take away in her life story as well.”
Brad invited his grandma on a weekend trip to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, anticipating it would be their only excursion together.
“You don’t assume going into that that your 85-year-old grandmother going with you on a camping trip is going to be anything less than challenging,” Brad said. “That was my fault. That was my misperception of what age means and more importantly, what her spirit would allow her to do.”