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Backpacker Magazine – January 2014

Readers' Choice 2014: Heroes

We asked readers to nominate the people who inspire them.

by: April Cumming


Cashea Smart, 25
This trail-tough cancer survivor dreams of regaining her park ranger career. 

In 2008, 20-year-old Cashea Smart scored her dream job as a full-time, permanent interpretive ranger (at a national cemetery in Georgia). Even as a kid, she wanted to be a ranger; in high school she worked on trail crews in three national parks. 

But a month into her new gig, she was diagnosed with a rare blood cancer. She went through two rounds of chemo, losing her job when she ran out of leave. 

Now cancer-free, Smart is rebuilding the career her illness cut short, taking dozens of classes on topics like resource management and hiking as much as she can. The stronger she gets, the more parks she reaches out to. 

Take it from me “Don’t let your life stand still as you wait on a dream.” 




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