On July 10th, over 80 Veteran hikers and dedicated volunteers gathered in Chattanooga, TN to hike for the Irreverent Warrior cause - prevent Veteran suicide through connection, camaraderie, and humor.
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. REDEEM yours using code 2021CHATTOWN.
Chattanooga is a best of a hidden gem that's home to famous, scenic spots like the Chattanooga Choo Choo and Lookout Mountain. It's also deeply steeped in Military History, and was home to some pivotal moments of the Civil War. On the Historic Point Battlefield,
you can visit the site of the "Battle of the Clouds", where you can reflect on the history and get a view of seven states from one spot (with the right equipment, of course). Standing on the site, you can get a view of Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama, North Carolina, South Carolina, Kentucky, and Virginia.
This was a special hike, especially because of the 80 hikers that attended, 40 of them were Virgins.
(First-time hikers, guys. Get your heads out of the gutter.) This hike is infamous for attracting new family members, and this year didn't disappoint.
The hike started at the Naked River Brewing company across the street from Finley Stadium in downtown Chattanooga and took us down to the riverfront and across the Market Street Bridge. From there, the hike headed to Renaissance Park for lunch where hikers took part in a balloon fight, hill sliding, and a handful of yard games like darts and yard pong. After lunch, we headed to Coolidge Park for a group photo opp, and then it was on to Veterans bridge.
One of the most memorable moments of the hike was our stop at Chattanooga National Cemetery, where everyone took a moment of silence before doing 22 pushups in recognition of your fallen brothers and sisters, and the 22 Veterans a day that commit suicide.
Stops were made along the way at a few local staples that we just can't miss the opportunity to visit, including Barley Chattanooga, Naked River Brewing, Market South, and Mike's Hole in the Wall.
"Not all wounds are visible. Not all those who wander are lost. I will walk with you through the valley of the shadow of death. IGY6"
-Unknown. None of us will ever walk alone.
The mission of every IW hike is the same – prevent Veteran suicide by bringing Vets together with humor and camaraderie. This hike was the perfect representation of that mission. From getting to act like a bunch of 18-year-olds at boot camp again during a water balloon fight, to the profound moment of silence at the cemetery, it was a reminder that none of us are alone, and we always have one another to lean on.
Thank you to all the local businesses and individuals who provided generous donations of food, drinks, and monetary contributions, or hosted us for stops along the hike!
Mike's Hole in the Wall - welcomed us with open arms for our first stop of the day. Special shoutout to Hannah and Erin, their catering gurus, who were amazing! They gave us an amazing deal on a delicious BBQ lunch and were nothing but accommodating every step of the way.
Barley Chattanooga - is one of the most unique restaurants and spaces in Chattanooga, and is famous for being extremely community-centered. They definitely showcased their sense of community in how accommodating they were for us on our stop here.
Market South - a little community of a few businesses to give hikers a choice, Market South consists of the Market South bar and restaurant, Milk & Honey, and Five Wits Brewing. The space was perfectly set up for hikers to be able to spread out and relax.
Naked River Brewing Company - was our last stop and post-hike party. These guys were amazing, and opened up their upstairs private party room for us to host the afterparty.
Sponsors & Donors
This hike would not have been possible without our other amazing sponsors!
Veteran Television (VET Tv) - our National Presenting Sponsor this year who donated Free Silkies to giveaway at the hike, and handed out a free month of VET Tv (seriously, did you redeem yours yet?? 2021CHATTOWN) to every hiker. VET Tv was set up with merch, stickers, and great conversation with hikers.
Blue Star Mothers -several members of this great local organization came out to lend a hand as volunteers during the hike. Thanks for your support!
Eileen Nix - for her mad photograph skills. *Photo credit for this blog all goes to her!*
The Tap House - local Veteran-owned business
VFW 1289 - for their generous sponsorship
Veteran PAWS - was a great sponsor and generous donor!
Brian Walker, VFW State of Tennessee Cmdr.
Sgt. Major Ernest F. Seagle Marine Corps League Detachment
Dairy Queen of Hixon, TN - for letting us host car washes in their parking lot to raise money for the hike
Cooper T. Holt VFW 1289 - for hosting a dart tournmanet in our honor to raise support for the hike
Christine Joslyn with Your Happy House Cleaner - for her willingness to donate her time and efforts to the hike in any facet she could.
Who Made it Possible
Bobbi Taylor (USMC)- Lead Coordinator
Steven Cowart (USMC) - Assistant Coordinator
Ed Scoggins (USMC) - Team Member
David Chadwick (USN) - Team Member
Chris Calhoun (USMC) - Team Member
Marissa Butler (USMC Spouse) - Volunteer Coordinator
This is a great team of truly dedicated volunteers that was the epitome of collaboration and teamwork to make this hike what it was. They were willing to go the extra mile - literally - by hiking the new route ahead of time to make sure stops and step-off points were coordinated correctly, worked tirelessly to make sure we had enough sponsors and volunteers, and were still able to be full of energy and excitement the day of the hike. Hats off to each of you.
JOIN THE DEBAUCHERY
We're gearing up for an even better hike in Chattanooga next year. If you want to get involved, check out the IW-Chat Facebook Page, or reach out to lead coordinator Jacob Fry directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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*** Goes to Eileen Nix!