ST. LOUIS, (KMOX) – He was beaten, starved, and electrocuted.  So hiking 2,500 miles to bring awareness to the plight of abused children is nothing for one St. Louis man.

“I would see other kids and they would get grounded from the telephone or from watching television.  My sister and I would get grounded from having food.”

Michael McLaughlin literally has scars from the abuse he took at the hands of his mother and her husband.  The one on his face has been there since he was twelve — the day he lent a friend a pair of pants after playing in the snow.  He says his mom flew into a rage, grabbing a lamp from a dresser.  “She took that lamp and she slammed it into my head and she hit me hard enough that it knocked me unconscious.”  He awoke in a pool of blood.  “If my mother had loved me at all, after having knocked me out and seeing me lying there.  If there was any kind of mother’s instinct or something to say okay I made a mistake, let me at least get my son some medical care.”

McLaughlin and his sister suffered routine beatings from their mother and her husband.  They were locked in closets, electrocuted, starved, and were berated and belittled until the court system finally intervened.  “There’s no child that can do anything to merit that kind of terrible treatment that my sister and I received and a lot of kids get a lot worse than what we had to go through.”

But now he’s created Hike 4 Kids.  “Watching my sister have her head banged against the wall or my sister locked in a closet and I wasn’t able to do anything and it killed me.  But now I am in a position where I can fight back and I can do something.”  McLaughlin will spend six months trekking through the Appalachian and Ozark trails to raise money and awareness.  He plans to update supporters with a regular blog.

In a letter to supporters Michael explains more about his efforts:

“I was inspired to do the hike by fellow Wash. U student Brooke James, who started a school for neglected blind children in Cameroon, Africa.  Brooke’s school provides room, board, and education for children who would otherwise be cast aside.  Amazingly, the school helps 25 children on a budget of less than $5,000 a year. 

I am hiking in support of Brooke’s school as well as the Family Resource Center, a local charity that helps children who are neglected or abused.  The FRC has been the last line of defense for mistreated children here in St. Louis since 1974.  If someone calls a hotline to report abuse, the FRC gets involved on behalf of the child to ensure the child’s safety.  The FRC provides intensive therapy to help children deal with the trauma, and makes sure the children are removed from the home if the parents are beyond repair.  In many cases, the FRC is able to place the children into a loving family through adoption.”

Click here for a link to Hike 4 Kids
You can also follow Michael’s blog and journey on the Hike 4 Kids Facebook page.

The Hike4Kids kickoff event is Friday, February 24th at noon in the May Auditorium of Simon Hall.

KMOX © Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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