On April 10th, 140 veterans gathered in Tulsa, Oklahoma for the FIRST Tulsa hike in history. On a hike that spanned some of Tulsa’s biggest landmarks, veterans came together for the ultimate mission - prevent Veteran suicide with humor, camaraderie, and connection.
The hike wound through downtown Tulsa and continued on the outskirts to hit Owen Park (for lunch and some field games, obviously). The hike squad for this one was pretty exciting – with hiker age ranging from 25-46 coming from almost every branch. We didn’t have anyone from the Navy attend this one, but we’re cool with that. (Kidding, Navy!) Oh, and did we mention servicewomen were repped hard at this hike?? We couldn't be more proud of that!
We hit a ton of famous Tulsa landmarks, including the “Center of the Universe.” If you haven’t heard of it – you’re gonna want to book a trip to Tulsa. It’s a brick circle on top of a downtown Tulsa bridge where you can stand with nothing but open air around you. If you stand just outside it (it’s only a foot in diameter) and talk, nothing happens. The second you step in it there's an echo. There’s absolutely no explanation for it.
You can imagine how much fun a bunch of Vets had with that one.
We hit two well-known Tulsa establishments that welcomed us with open arms. Shady Keys Dueling Piano Bar - Tulsa’s #1 Veteran owned/approved bar – and one of the most popular pubs in downtown, James E. McNellies. Both couldn’t have been more welcoming – thanks for this hospitality, guys!
We got some seriously great press for this hike to spread the word about Irreverent Warriors (and this group never hates a chance to get on camera.)
Meridian Media is a local Veteran-owned media and Veteran-business startup consultant group (they help other vet businesses start-up and get their footing), and they were overly excited to come out and handle our media. We think they were hoping for a chance to meet Donny O. in the flesh – but they still seemed pumped to talk to us. Or they hid their disappointment well.. one or the other!
We also had local news Channel 6 there to cover the hike. It was awesome to see such great coverage for the event. Our coordinators got dancing mob-bombed by a few hikers during that interview, but that captures the spirit of this group anyway.
We had a ton of reunions on this hike, probably because it was so centrally located in the country. Vets that hadn’t seen each other in anywhere from 5 to 30 years.
One story in particular is when 3 OH-58 Pilots – Victor, Dan and Kevin – came together for the first time in over 15 years. Victor is a local veteran here, but Dan and Kevin came all the way from Austin, TX and Oregon respectively. After deploying together during their careers, they lost touch – we all know that feeling. After over 15 years, this reunion was one for the record books, as you can see below:
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 Tulsa hiker-
"I just want to say that even as anxious as I was about this weekend I am so glad I didn’t back out of this hike! I usually don’t do things alone, especially when I don’t know anyone. I met so many fascinating, strong, resilient, amazing people who made me feel safe, welcomed, and literally like I was at a family reunion. I love the mission of IW, have several reasons I went - and I will continue to go to more as I’m able.
- Anji La
Massive thanks go out to a few local businesses and organizations that were a huge help in making this hike what it was.
22 Sierra Coffee - one of our national sponsors that came out to show some love for the first Tulsa silkies hike. They came out and set up a table and provided us all with a hot cup of Dark Humor to start off our hike day.
Veteran Television (VET Tv) our 2021 National Presenting Sponsor (thanks for that free pair of Silkies to give away at the hike, too!)
Sprout’s Farmers Market Store #806 - We did not even need to find other donors because of this store and their management team! Barbara and Taylor, who both have connections to the military, over-delivered at every turn. We approached them in regards to donating some water and they came back with double the request, on top of providing snacks as well!
Play it Again Sports - these guys gave us the hook up of all time. Not only did this local establishment dive in as a sponsor, they donated over $500 worth of products for our games/giveaways and provided sports drinks and snacks.
On top of the generosity for the hike - the owner has just heard about how IW does things and is hooked. She has several high-end sports connections that she wants to get us involved with for professional athlete fundraisers with us. An example being: Pros & Vets, a professional Disc Golf tournament for fundraising. KEEP YOUR EARS OPEN FOR DETAILS!
Shady Keys Dueling Piano Bar – The owner of this bar does wonders for the Veteran community in Tulsa. Not only as a sponsor for the hike, he allowed us to use his bar for the Meet n Greet, opened it just for us during the hike, hired his marketing team to take care of our photography and video, and used his network to help promote the hike as well.
This hike would not have been what it was without these incredible businesses!
Who Made it Possible
Charles Scrader- Lead Coordinator
Tina Foster- Assistant Coordinator
Candance Henderson- Assistant Coordinator
Dow Henderson- Assistant Coordinator
Ryan Tognazinni- Assistant Coordinator
Keegan Crawford- Assistant Coordinator
Kestrel Tinklenberg- Assistant Coordinator
Kat Weaver- Assistant Coordinator
JOIN THE DEBAUCHERY
We're looking forward to a MASSIVE event in Tulsa next year. If you want to get involved with next year's hike or other events throughout the year, reach out to coordinator Charles J Scrader III directly:
Phone: (918) 284-2734
Or Find him on Facebook!
Spread the word - attend a hike - DONATE! Over 97% of IW proceeds go to the actual mission. Not to brag- but that's pretty much unheard of in the nonprofit world. Just sayin'.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org so we can accredit it.