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Family of Eddie Noonkester: Thanks to the Dawson County community
Eddie Noonkester
Eddie Noonkester. - Photos courtesy of Dawson County Emergency Services

From Wesley and Janice Noonkester

To the people of Dawson County and the Appalachian Trail community,

We want to thank you for all of the warmth, kindness, courage and caring you showed to us during the search for our beloved Eddie Noonkester after he became disoriented and lost while starting a hike on the Appalachian Trail.

Everyone responded in such brave and compassionate ways, and it's impossible for us to put into words the profound gratitude we feel for each and every one of you.

The men and women who participated in the days-long search effort, are nothing short of superheroes. They risked their own safety and well-being to scour the rugged territory during the most punishing weather conditions, enduring bitter temperatures and freezing rain while hiking on slippery, treacherous slopes.

We specifically want to thank these people of Dawson, Forsyth, Gilmer, and Gwinnett Counties who led the search efforts and kept in close contact with us to try to ease our fears through such a frantic time.

And behind these men and women, behind each front-line rescue worker and volunteer were countless others pitching in to help in unseen yet significant ways, from providing food to spreading the word for everyone to be on the lookout in case he emerged from the woods.

So many wonderful people devoted themselves, heart and soul, to finding him. We know that the outcome is as devastating to them and the community as it is to us.  And yet, please know that your kindness through this tragic time in our lives has made our sorrow much more possible to bear.

There is no way we can pay back your kindness and goodness, but we will do our best to pay it forward, to honor Eddie and all of you who wanted so much to save his life.

With our deepest gratitude,

Wesley and Janice