On May 1st, over 50 Veteran hikers - and over 20 volunteers - gathered in Salt Lake City 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 wound all throughout downtown Salt Lake City and a few surrounding areas, stopping at a few landmarks along the way that fit right in with the spirit of the hike. Between Liberty Park - a Salt Lake City icon dedicated to the men and women that fought in our World Wars - and a stop at the County Building downtown (the oldest building in the city that was constructed by Free Masons in 1891), there was some great history celebrated and honor paid to the Veterans that came before us.
The hike was hosted by some great local restaurants and businesses that welcomed us enthusiastically for stops along the way. Alpha Coffee, Beehive Distilling, Salt Fire Brewing, and Big Willie's all made us feel welcomed and right at home.
The best part of any hike is when there's local support. Not just from businesses, but when random spectators and passerby get pumped too, you can just feel the energy radiating throughout the hike. At one point in the middle of a street crossing, a group of lowrider cars caught wind of what we were doing, which prompted them to rev their cars and pop a few off the ground. It was a unique way to experience some local support, and it immediately brought the energy level up even higher.
"The Salt Lake Seed has been planted, now let's grow this new family tree!"
-Jarvie Curtis, Lead Coordinator
The mission of every IW hike is the same – prevent Veteran suicide by bringing Vets together with humor and camaraderie. This hike was one non-stop funny, emotional, supportive moment – but there were a few that warrant specific mention.
Quan Nguyen, volunteer coordinator for the hike, had an incredible idea to document interactions between hikers that had never met. On several occasions, we got to really watch how new hikers became instant members of the family. Watching the forge connections and gain friends in moments was a truly powerful thing to see. One hiker even approached our lead coordinator to say that he was certain the Salt Lake hike had saved his life. If that's not the entire point of a Silkies hike, what is?
Huge shout out to a few local businesses that hosted us for stops along the way:
Big Willies - for allowing us to start and end the hike at their location. The owner - a USMC Veteran - was so supportive and accommodating. Huge shout out to him and his staff for great service and support!
Alpha Coffee - for providing FREE cups of the BEST brew in town to all our hikers and volunteers. You guys are amazing, just like your coffee!
Salt Fire Brewing – for the warm welcome on our stop, and for the items you donated to our raffle!
Beehive Distilling - for the generous donation of items for our raffle. Every time helped us raise money for future events. Thanks guys!
Liberty Bell Customs - for donating the flag AND for being our medics on the hike! It was a huge load off to know we were in such great hands every step of the way!
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 to every hiker. VET Tv was set up with merch, stickers, and great conversation with hikers.
Einstein's Bagels - for donating a delicious breakfast for the hike at step-off. It was the perfect start to the day. Thank you!
Who Made it Possible
Jarvie Curtis (USMC) - Lead Coordinator
Courtney Castro (USN) - Assistant Coordinator
Quan Nguyen (USMC) - Volunteer Coordinator
JOIN THE DEBAUCHERY
This was the FIRST hike hosted in Salt Lake City, and big things are happening for this hike 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.