On April 17th, over 170 Veterans gathered in Fort Lauderdale to hike for a cause. Veterans came together from all over the country for the ultimate mission - prevent Veteran suicide with humor, camaraderie, and connection.
The hike started in the historic district of Las Olas Boulevard, wrapped down to the beach, and ended up the infamous A1A, Beach Front Avenue (Shout-out to Vanilla Ice for making that spot famous.) There were some great stop at local venues a long the way – including the world-famous Elbow Room on Las Olas Boulevard and Rocco’s Tacos (according to our lead coordinator, the best Tacos in Ft. Lauderdale.) Rocco’s Tacos is one of the most welcoming group of people out there, and the hike had a blast hanging out.
The highlight of the day was watching Veterans from every branch in the military – and every background imaginable – storming the beach in front of Lucky 13 lifeguard tower, then turning back with nothing but smiles and war cries all around. We always think the biggest displays of camaraderie are the highlights of hikes – color us biased.
We take that back – getting photo-bombed by a dancing bystander at the start of the hike might have been the highlight. Her smile might have been bigger than ours (might).
We will sarcastically sum up the hike with the most-used quote of the day:
"It's really hot out today."
What can you do? Vets aren't known for their way with words.
The mission of every IW hike is the same – prevent Veteran suicide by bringing Vets together with humor and camaraderie. This hike was one non-stop funny, emotional, supportive moment, in particular- like that group charge on the beach - are enough to reduce grown men to tears (we're not SAYING that happened.) This group was just a force to be reckoned with in terms of fun, friendship, and... we can't say the other F word but it rhymes with "uckery."
Massive thanks go out to a few sponsors and individuals that helped make this hike a success.
VET Tv (Veteran Television) - our 2021 National Presenting Sponsor! They had a booth setup at sign-up giving away stickers, merch, and free months of VET Tv! (thanks for that free pair of Silkies to give away at the hike, too!)
Hard Rock Miami –These guys were our lunch sponsor, donating fresh sandwiches and fruit for all the hikers. It was the perfect, refreshing lunch on a hot day. Thanks a ton!
Original Fat Cats- For their healthy donation of breakfast and coffee to fuel some hungry vets for a day-long hike.
Rocco's Tacos –This awesome local organization welcomed us at one of our stops – then promptly donated back all the sales from our group to Irreverent Warriors. Seriously, these guys are Rockstars and we can’t thank them enough.
Elbo Room- For hosting us for one of our stops and providing delicious food and drinks for the group.
McSorley's Pub - Another great stop host that provided some great refreshments on a seriously hot day. Thank you for the support!
Munchie's Pizza and Barcade- For giving us exclusive specials and letting us relax listening to their awesome guest band, Pandia!
Fort Lauderdale PD- For the escort at the beginning of our hike, and for just being great folks to worth with all around. Your collaboration and support is appreciated more than you know!
Iron Smoke Whiskey- A local veteran-owned business had goodie bags for all the hikers and gave some free merch away - and donated some items for our raffle. Thank you for your support!
Who Made it Possible
Brendan Allf - Lead Coordinator
Angelo Martinez - Media Lead
Wade Waddick - Media Production
Phil Krizmanich - Volunteer Coordinator
JOIN THE DEBAUCHERY
Big things are happening for this hike next year! IW coordinators are working on ramping up all our events to make them better and better every year.
If you want to get involved, reach out via the Fort Lauderdale Facebook page, or to lead coordinator Brendan Allf directly at email@example.com. We’re always looking to add extra hands to the team!
If you're looking for more hikes to attend this year (we certainly wouldn't blame you) you can find events in your area on the Irreverent Warriors website.
97% of the proceeds we raise at Irreverent Warriors goes directly to our mission - prevent Veteran suicide through connection, camaraderie, and humor. We're not into spreading awareness - we're into making a difference.
One Shared MissionaVET Tv is the proud National Sponsor for Irreverent Warriors in 2021. In addition to a $25,000 donation matching initiative, every ticket to an IW Silkies Hike comes with a free month subscription to VET Tv.
***Blog Photo Credit*** The photos used in this blog are photos collected from those shared by hikers, coordinators, volunteers, and attendees of Silkies Hikes. If you'd like individual credit for a photo that shared, please reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org so we can accredit it.