Sixty-three-year-old Pine resident Rick Summers is nearly bionic, with titanium running from his shoulders to his tailbone.

After three back surgeries and a hip replacement, Summers has been on the mend since his last surgery in March 2020.

While most might be happy just to walk again, Summers has his sight set on a bigger goal — hike the Pine Trailhead.

On Saturday, Sept. 11, Summers is hiking 1.6 miles of the Pine Loop. He hopes to raise money for Tunnels to Towers.

When asked what spurred the goal, Summers said in part because of a friend who said they didn’t think he could do it.

“Cause Cindy Maack made me mad,” he said. “I’m titanium from just below my shoulder blades to my tailbone,” he said with a wry grin. “She told me, “you can’t do that hike,.”

The loop hike rises 195 feet in elevation.

The pair made a bet, agreeing to give all donations to charity. The bet gained attention from Sommers’ other friends, some wanting to contribute to Tunnels to Towers to celebrate Rick’s accomplishment.

After laying in bed for a year after his surgeries — “that sucked” — Sommers is driven to get better.

Starting with physical therapy at home, Sommers was taken in a wheelchair to the kitchen sink. He would stand as long as he could before falling back to the wheelchair.

Moving forward one step at a time, Sommers worked his way up to walking on the elementary school track, first with a walker and then a cane.

“I have to. If I stop, I don’t get better,” he said.

He says he can walk in his home cane free. “But I still look like a penguin,” he laughed.

He added that his wife, Barbara, has been very supportive of his determined rehabilitation. The pair have been married 32 years, clearly “stick to it-ness” is Sommers’ way.

Setting challenges keeps him going.

Twenty years, to the day, it seems a fitting tribute to contribute to an organization born out of the tragedy of 9/11.

Sommers chose Tunnels to Towers because more than 90% of funds raised go to catastrophically injured first responders and veterans, families of fallen first responders, and Gold Star families. Sommers’ goal is to raise $1,000.

“The Tunnel to Towers Foundation honors the sacrifice of firefighter Stephen Siller, who laid down his life to save others on Sept. 11, 2001. We also honor our military and first responders who continue to make the supreme sacrifice of life and limb for our country,” the organization says on its website.

Starting between 6 a.m. and 7 a.m. on Saturday Sept. 11, four good friends will accompany Sommers, just to make sure if he falls they are there to pick him up. His balance is still not great, and an overgrown vine can catch his cane and throw him off balance.

Sommers will carry a special rock. He joined a rock painting class at THAT Brewery taught by Reba Aronne to create a tribute for the day. He will leave it on the trail as a reminder of his accomplishment.

You can find out more and donate on Sommers’ behalf at

Labor Day Craft Fair

in full swing this weekendThe Pine-Strawberry Arts & Crafts Guild sponsored Labor Day Craft Fair is back and should be at full steam.

The fair will open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 4 and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 5. It will be held at the Pine Community Center smack in the middle of Pine. There will be vendor booths both outside and inside the Pine Community Center.

As a treat, there will be a special performance by the Halau Hula O Ka’anohiokala Dance Studio students from Payson on Saturday, Sept. 4 at 10:30 a.m. at the fair. There could be ukulele players as well. Come out and support Rim Country dancers.

Mountain Village Foundation will serve up the traditional pancake breakfasts from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. Saturday and Sunday at the fair. Prices are $6 for adults and $4 for kids. They are also hosting the local Boy Scouts of America, who will start both days with a presentation of colors and the Pledge of Allegiance. The scouts also help throughout the morning with breakfast.

Friends of the Library will sell used books in the library activity room, behind the Cultural Hall, starting Friday, Sept. 3 through 5 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Hundreds of used books will be for sale, most under a $1. All proceeds benefit the Pine library.

The Pine-Strawberry Arts and Crafts Guild is a nonprofit Arizona Corporation serving the communities of Pine and Strawberry since 1980. All artists and crafters from these communities may join as active members. Interested parties not living in these communities may join as non-voting associate members. Annual dues for either type of member are $10.

Meetings are held on the last Friday of each month (except December) at 9 a.m. in the arts and crafts room at the Pine Community Center. You do not need to be a member to attend the monthly meeting. You do not need to be a crafter to join.

While you visit the fair, check out the arts and crafts room, the home of the guild. During the spring, summer and fall months, the room is available for members to display their arts and crafts for sale during the three festival periods and special weekend boutiques. All items are juried prior to room participation.

All vendors who wish to have a booth at the festival must submit pictures of their products for evaluation by the jury committee of the guild. Those who are accepted pay a small fee for the booth space.

All monies collected by the guild, over costs related to advertising, sanitation, and security, are donated to other nonprofit organizations in Pine and Strawberry.

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