On March 13th, over 130 veterans gathered on the beaches of Waikiki for the FIRST not-an-athletic event Silkies Hike in Honolulu, Hawaii - hiking just under 12 miles to promote camaraderie and humor. With a shared mission of ending Veteran suicide by forming connections and building friendships, this dedicated group of Vets said, "Restrictions be Damned" and hiked in groups of 10 to adhere to COVID regulations to still put mission first (some things never change.)
The hike started at the historic Waikiki Shell Amphitheater at Kai'olani Regional Park and continued along Waikiki Beach - past "Dukes" statue and taking time for a short stop on the beach behind the U.S. Army Derussy Museum down to Ala Moana Park.
As hike tradition mandates, there were plenty of off-hand chances for Vets to be competitive (shocking, right?) - with Hawaii themed games like Topple the Tiki (Fancing name for Frisbee throw), Don't Drag Your Sack (Innuendo for Sack Race), and - the highlight of the hike - the "Warrior Dash" relay on the beach. The winning team received Hawaiian Fish Hook trophies and bragging rights (so more than the military ever gave you, just sayin'.)
There was an impromptu push-up contest at the end of the hike - which demonstrated the completely different standards between the branches. Surprisingly, the Air Force did pretty well... for the Air Force.
Oh, and did we mention there was an authentic Donny O'Malley sighting? Live and in the chiseled flesh.
The mission of Irreverent Warriors - and of every Silkies Hike - is to bring veterans together to make connections and grow their support system. To quote a new hiker - "It was amazing to see so many come together for the betterment of Veteran mental health in such a fun way. I did not even know there were things like this out here. I can't wait for next one." Clearly, the Veteran hikers took it easy on him.
Massive thanks go out to a few local businesses and organizations that were a huge help in making this hike what it was.
Aligned Mortgage for giving us a LIVE radio interview the week before to promote the hike, and for providing food and T-shirts for everyone at the final beach stop. They're a Veteran-owned business themselves and their support was more than appreciated.
Veteran Television (VET Tv) our 2021 National Presenting Sponsor (thanks for that free pair of Silkies to give away at the hike, too!)
Honolulu Police Department for working with us to make sure we adhered to all the local COVID regulations and didn't ruffle any feathers. Not one complaint was received that we weren't following local guidelines (which is a Damn miracle with this bunch, but we'll take it.)
Who Made it Possible
Mark Terwilleger- Lead Coordinator
Chad Salinero- Route and Activity Chair
Erica Lehmkul - Sponsorship Chair
Noel Kuseara -Social Media Coordinator
Doug Capazzi - National Coordinator
Andrew and Kimberly Pereira- District Coordinators
Donna Gishitomi- Gold Star Wife - Generous Donor of all the Prizes for our Poker Run
Sergeant Audie Murphy Club of Schofield Barracks- Coordinator for Poker Run and Competitive "Games"
JOIN THE DEBAUCHERY
We're looking forward to a MASSIVE event in Honolulu next year - with anticipation of over 400 hikers. If you want to get involved with next year's hike or other events throughout the year, stay updated via the 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.
***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 email@example.com so we can accredit it.