On March 6th in Baton Rouge, LA over 120 Veterans - rocking their chiseled thighs and some inappropriate Mardi Gras gear - came together and hiked 22K to promote camaraderie and humor. The mission? Preventing veteran suicide. Connections save lives. Secondary mission? Turn a lot of heads in Baton Rouge.
The hike took vets through a winding downtown Baton Rouge Park with 200-year-old live oaks, cypress and willow trees - and an LSU sorority (everyone kept their hands to themselves!)
Stops along the hike had cornhole, ladder ball, and horseshoes (not that vets are competitive or anything). There were vets who had been hiking together for years, and a host of new hikers that didn't find it tough to fit in.
How do the hike veterans break in the newcomers? A new volunteer expressed that she didn't know machine gunners were called Rock Eaters - so one of the Marines in attendance obliged by... well, eating rocks. Marines, man.
The mission of Irreverent Warriors - and of every Silkies Hike - is to bring veterans together to make connections and grow their support system. At Baton Rouge this year, we watched two high schools buddies who served in separate branches get reunited for the first time since graduation. The hike COO was reunited spontaneously with someone he served with he hadn't seen in years. Countless new connections were made. At the beginning of the hike, Local Coordinator Steven Babin challenged every hiker to make at least two new contacts before they left the hike - to exchange numbers and keep in touch. As vets tend to do - they rose to the occasion.
Massive thanks go out to a few local businesses and organizations that were a huge help in making this hike what it was.
Gerry Lane Chevrolet for taking our worries about how we would have a COVID-compliant lunch literally right off our plates.
Veteran Television (VET Tv) our 2021 National Presenting Sponsor (thanks for that free pair of Silkies to give away at the hike, too!)
Walk On's Sports Bistreaux on Burbank for allowing us to host our meet and greet. Bless you for allowing this group into your restaurant. We had a blast.
Baton Rouge Police Department (Special shout out to Lt. Gurzynski)
Marine Corps League Choctaw Division 778 for bringing breakfast and for their help at step-off.
A special thanks to our ongoing sponsors Sports Clips, Prairieville, and Gracie United Association. A thank you goes out to the local organizations who all supported the hike by donating water, fruit, snacks, and monetary donations to help the hike run smooth: Baton Rouge Coca-Cola Bottling, Ace Enterprises, Beads by the Dozen, Hokus Pokus Liquors.
Who Made it Possible
Steven Babin- Lead Coordinator Tracy Babin- Lead Volunteer Carly Fountain - Lead Medic Kyle Leger- Safety Vehicles Carey Babin- Logistics Kim and Andrew Pereira - District Coordinators Ellen Crane- National Volunteer Coordinator
JOIN THE DEBAUCHERY
If you're in the Baton Rouge area and want to get involved with next year's hike or other events throughout the year, stay updated via the local Facebook Page and reach out! Irreverent Warriors is a nationwide organization hosting hikes in over 100 cities, so chances are there's one coming to a city near you. If you can't attend a hike but still want to support an organization making a real difference in veteran lives - donate today. Every dollar helps make a connection that will save a life.
One Shared Missiona
VET 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.