Jen Hudak in New Orleans for the USOC Athlete Advisory Council and Hike For KaTREEna.
Of the many losses New Orleans suffered in Katrina, the city’s trees are now feeling the effects. Over 100,000 were lost, including many of the beautiful magnolias and oaks. This past month, halfpipe skiing star Jen Hudak participated in an effort to restore that loss, as a part of the U.S. Olympic Committee, Athlete Advisory Council.
In 2006, New Orleans resident Monique Pilié hiked over 2,000 miles of the Appalachian Trail. Her goal was to raise awareness of the storm’s impact and to raise enough money to plant one tree in New Orleans for every mile she hiked. She then started the non-profit organization - “Hike for KaTREEna”.
Insert four-time X Games medalist, Jen Hudak. Hudak, who, when not training in the Center of Excellence or throwing huge air in the halfpipe spends as much time as she can outdoors (just look at her instagram profile – jenhudak - and you'll see what we're talking about).
"I was in New Orleans for the USOC Athlete Advisory Council meetings. I serve as the alternate athlete rep and represent all of ski and snowboarding events," said Hudak. "At each meeting we do a community outreach event and this time we worked with Hike For Katreena. We were helping to restore Behrman Park, which was host to a tent city after Katrina. Most of the damage there minimal in comparison to the surrounding areas, so seven years later, they are turning their attention to this place."
Behrman Park is one of the largest parks on New Orleans West Bank. While the area did not have major flooding from Katrina, it is part of one of the City's 18 key recovery areas because of its potential to serve as an economic development stimulus for the City.
"We spent our day resurfacing tennis courts, painting a rec building and a bathroom facility. It didn't feel like enough time for me, I wish I could have done more, but it felt really good to give back in this way," continued Hudak. "Since all of us helping were athletes, we understood the impact that a huge park, like Behrman Park, can have on a community."
The Park is on its way to recovery, but it will take years for the treescape to return to what it once was. To learn more about this project and how you can help, visit http://www.hikeforkatreena.com/.