On July 31st, over 100 veteran hikers and dedicated volunteers gathered in Milwaukee 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 2021MILWAUKEE.
The hike route took us along Milwaukee's famous riverfront, through downtown and along the shores of Lake Michigan. There was some great local flavor with stops along the way at Dryhootch coffee, Colectivo coffee, and our lunch stop at Lakefront Brewery. Dylan and Mike were ON POINT hosts and were happy to accommodate our growing number of hikers, even despite battling their own staffing shortage. Guys, your support was appreciated more than you know!
Chicago IW coordinator Brandon Eldridge graced us with his presence at this hike - on his birthday nonetheless - and the entire hike promptly thanked him by singing 'Happy Birthday' in unison. It was definitely one of the highlights of the day, next to the "longest cornhole toss challenge" that was hosted at lunch (along with branch Tug O'War, obviously.)
"Together, ordinary people can achieve extraordinary results."
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.
At this hike, there was a new concept introduced that was ultimately dubbed 'story time', where hikers were each assigned a number to be split into smaller groups. Once in groups at the first stop, hikers were able to introduce themselves, share their story (as much as they were comfortable), and form some new connections. It brought the entire mood of the hike up multiple notches, and it was great to see so many new friendships be formed.
A really special moment was when hikers were originally informed there was an "anti-military" protest along the hike route. But when the hike came to the protest, after some hand-shaking and a conversation, we realized that actually are missions are the same. The protesters were there to speak out against the lack of care that veterans receive in a post-war setting. It was such a great way to help build our community and push our mission statement even further.
Thank you to all the local businesses and individuals who provided generous donations, hosted us for stops along the hike, or were there with us at step-off to support the cause!
Marine Raiders Foundation
Milwaukee Veteran Jui Jitsu Support Group
Danny Z's Woodworking - for donating custom IW dog tags to all of our hikers!
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?? 2021MILWAUKEE) to every hiker. VET Tv was set up with merch, stickers, and great conversation with hikers.
DJs in the Drinks - Lake Geneva
TEAM Concepts Printing
Who Made it Possible
Danny Zientek- Lead Coordinator
Rachel (USMC) - Route Planning and Hike-Awareness Expert
Cassidy (USMC) - Assistant Coordinator
Heather - Behind-the-Scenes Workhorse
JOIN THE DEBAUCHERY
This was the first hike ever held in Milwaukee, but it certainly won't be the last! If you're looking to get involved, reach out via the IW-Milwaukee Facebook page, or reach out to lead coordinator Danny Zientek directly at email@example.com.
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 MissionVET 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*** Most blog photos are pulled from the IW-Milwaukee Facebook Page and are contributed by hikers and attendees of the event that are happy to share their photos. Credit for these photos goes to Tristen Alana, KJ Volceka, Nathan Harter, Adam Rodriguez, and Scottlynn Kiebey. If one of these photos is yours and you'd like individual credit, please reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org so we can do so!