On July 4th, 22 dedicated Veteran hikers gathered in Hopedale, Illinois to celebrate freedom by hiking 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 2021HOPEDALEIL.
While all Irreverent Warrior hikes tend to be incredible showcases of camaraderie and community, there's something special about the Hopedale hike. Hopedale itself is a small farming rural community in Illinois with a population of only 800-900 people. That makes it the smallest town on the roster to host a hike... but they certainly make up for it in terms of support.
The Hopedale community alone raised over $2000 to support our hike through a Facebook Fundraiser. That means donations came directly from small area businesses and residents. Talk about being received with open arms.
There are no bars or restaurants in Hopedale, but there are so many other unique aspects like it's a state-of-the-art medical complex - which is completely uncharacteristic for such a small town - and the Willis Snowmobile Museum (you read that right.)
Steeped in its own brand of military history, the hike started at the Hopedale Area Veterans Memorial, and went on to stop at a small private pond (you know at least a few hikers helped themselves to a quick swim), along with a few yard games - bags and our version of the Thunderdome (bounce boxing.)
The mission of every IW hike is the same – prevent Veteran suicide by bringing Vets together with humor and camaraderie. This hike was one moment of just that, but there were a few too good not to mention.
After a delicious donated Porkchop sandwich lunch, a truly special part of the day was when the hike headed downtown to join in on the Hopedale 4th of July parade. We're not sure of the "statistical accuracy" of this statement, but 'they' say Hopedale has the longest running Independence Day parade in the country. And trust us, you could tell they're proud of that. The hike received standing ovation after standing ovation, waves from children in the crowd, and all the hoops and hollers you could imagine.
As if the day needed to get better, the parade ended at Hopedale Park, where hikers proceeded to engage in an all-out water balloon fight with Hopedale's local baseball and softball teams. It was bar none the highlight of the day.
Huge shout out to a few local businesses that made this hike possible with their support and donations.
Hopedale Lion's Club - for their donation of our great lunch.
The Hopedale Medical Complex - for allowing us to utilize their parking lot for setup and for bringing us donuts before step off!
The Baking Baer - for donating some of their famous cookies (best ones in Illinois, just saying.)
Green Valley Fire Department and the Hopedale Police Department- for providing their support that consisted of two military-grade vehicles, and all the help we could have asked for.
A huge special thanks to all the individual donors who contributed the baskets for our raffle at the end of the hike. It was the perfect ending to an even better day.
This hike would not have been possible without our other 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 (seriously, did you redeem yours yet?? 2021HOPEDALE) to every hiker.
AW Construction - for their generous funding donation to make this hike what it was.
Signs of Success- provided us with all of our merchandise and banners for the hike - completely made to order and 100% donated. Thank you to this incredible business for their support!
Who Made it Possible
Mason Willis - Lead Coordinator
Brandon Tackett - Social Media Coordinator/Guru
Tim Barton - Assistant Coordinator
Danielle- Assistant Coordinator/Glue-that-Holds-the-Hike-Together
Tricia - Volunteer/Resident-Bubbly-Personality-and-Team-Motivator
JOIN THE DEBAUCHERY
If you want to get involved, reach out to lead coordinator Mason Willis 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*** The photos used in this blog are photos collected from those shared by hikers, coordinators, volunteers, and attendees of Silkies Hikes. Photo credit on this blog in particular goes to Hopedale Medical Complex and ABC Heart of Illinois. If you'd like individual credit for a photo that shared, please reach out at email@example.com so we can accredit it.