On May 1st, over 90 Veterans gathered in Des Moines, Iowa 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 at the World War II Freedom Flame, a tribute to those who fought for our freedom during World War II. It certainly seemed like a fitting place to start. Hikers wound through downtown Des Moines into the heart of the city, making stops along the way at a few local icons. El Bait Shop & Highlife Lounge – a staple bar in the Des Moines metro – was our first stop, and they welcomed us with open arms.
One of the best taco trucks in town (shameless plug), Flame Taqueria, catered our lunch. The tacos were literally the talk of the hike the rest of the day. Turns out, nothing brings hiking veterans together faster than bomb tacos. Who knew?
Our last stop was at 1717 Brewing, a place that has become a staple stop for the Des Moines hike thanks to its hard-to-beat atmosphere, prime location, and beyond friendly staff.
Never a group to miss out on a good old-fashioned storming – the highlight of the hike was the “storming of the hill” photo captured at one of the short halts. There was some healthy competition induced when Military Apparel and Gear (M.A.G.), a big supporter of our event and a local Veteran-owned company, held a competition for the Most American-Dressed Hiker. Talk about every Veteran’s dream.
“It’s f***** cold. Sky’s out thighs out. Clouds out quads out. Either way, camaraderie will keep me warm.”
-Des Moines Hike
The mission of every IW hike is the same – prevent Veteran suicide by bringing Vets together with humor and camaraderie. This hike embodied those values from start to finish. Sometimes our hikers say it best, so we'll let them do it.
“I didn’t realize how much I needed the hike on Saturday. I didn’t
realize how much I needed to see the community of brothers and sisters that I have built.
I think many of us follow the life series of Donny, and his battles with his mental health.
After this weekend and some solid talks with other folks, today is the day I go back to
mental health. My first in-person, airing sh*t out appointment is Monday morning at 9.
Thanks to all of you beautiful people I came to the realization that I was letting all this stuff
ruin my life and I hated who I am. So today is day 1 of fixing myself and getting back to
where I need to be for myself and my family. So to all of you, a sincere thank you. Here’s
to winning the battle.”
-Ethan Steenbergen Beck
“I graduated highschool in a class of 21 students. Moved away after
graduation and never looked back. A guy that graduated the year after me was at the
hike. He had joined the Marines after graduation. We didn’t have the same circle of
friends so we didn’t really know each other back then. He didn’t realize that I was the
local coordinator for the hike. It was really cool to catch up with him. It’s like we were
long lost friends. It amazes me how tight the bond between veterans is - no matter what
your background is or where you came from, where you served or what your job was…
we can find SOMETHING to talk about - thats the best part of Irreverent Warriors. That
-Olivia McBride, Lead Coordinator
Huge shout out to a few local businesses that hosted us for stops along the way or donated supplies to help make this hike great!
A King's Throne- donated a port-a-potty mounted on a trailer for us. Some things are just essential. We appreciate you guys!
Flame Taqueria - for working with us to create a custom menu for our Taco lunch that worked perfectly for this crowd. Best lunch ever - the hike was raving about it the entire day. Thanks guys!
El Bait Shop & Highlife Lounge- for welcoming us with tons of enthusiasm on our stop there.
1717 Brewing - for the great hospitality and amazing atmosphere at our staple stop!
This hike would not have been possible without our amazing sponsors & donors.
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 to every hiker. VET Tv was set up with merch, stickers, and great conversation with hikers.
Shane Pankonen with P&P Solutions
Adam Bentz with Charter House Realty
Jacquelyn Dukes with Selling Central Iowa Realty
Pineland Gun Supply & Boogalube Gun Oil
Carriage House Custom Woodworking
Who Made it Possible
Olivia McBride - Lead Coordinator
Lori Adams - Volunteer Coordinator
John Biga- Assistant Coordinator
James Yates- Assistant Coordinator
Shane Pankonen - Jack of All Trades
This is a group of local area veterans that are passionate about Irreverent Warriors, Silkies Hikes, Mental Health & Veteran Suicide Prevention.
JOIN THE DEBAUCHERY
Big things are happening for this hike next year! Lead Coordinator Olivia McBride is hell-bent and determined on getting to over 150 hikers next year.
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.