On June 12th, over 300 Veterans - hikers, coordinators and volunteers alike - gathered in Wilmington, NC 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 2021WILMNC.
The hike – though still dubbed the Wilmington hike for popularity points (ha) – actually took place in a smaller outlying city called Carolina Beach. While we love the city of Wilmington, as a smaller city Carolina Beach is a bit easier to host the hike in. Nevermind, they are the most welcoming group of locals… ever. Plus, it resulted in some pretty sweet beach views that gave us some amazing photo opportunities, and for that we're not mad.
This was a hell of a diverse hike, with our youngest hiker clocking in at 18-years-old, and our oldest hiker a 78-year-old Vet (who kicked everyone’s butt, we might add.) With two miles of the hike being on the beach, a few of our Vets were concerned with making the trek. But we shouldn’t be surprised that a local organization, Access of Wilmington, provided a stellar donation of the use of two beach “hoopers” – which are essentially small dune buggies made for the beach. This allowed all our brothers to keep in time with the hike. One of the most amazing donations – and amazing moments – in hike history.
One of our goals this year was to deck the hike out in as many flags as we could. With 300 hikers available, it was a lot. Seeing the sea of flags travel down the beach was… yeah. Talk about a powerful moment. Even beach bystanders were giving standing ovations.
"Power Beyond Measures."
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.
While hikes are a great place to escape reality for even a moment, we’re all constantly aware of the challenges we face. Even during the hike itself, there was news received by a hiker of a family friend attempting to take his own life that morning. The support the rest of the hike showed him in that moment was the absolute embodiment of why we do what we do. None of are alone – we fought together, and now we recover together. Asking for help isn’t easy – but it can be easier.
For all the moments that reminded us of the challenges, there were the moments of good that remind was why we fight them. There were tons of reunions on this hike – including for lead coordinator Matthew Reeves who got to see four other hikers he hadn’t seen in almost 15 years.
Plus, there was one massive display of love we won’t soon forget. Zackiryea, a Wilmington hiker, dropped a little bomb and proposed to his girlfriend right on the beach after the group photo. We love Zackiryea, and are sending him tons of congratulations – but also safe and strong vibes for his upcoming deployment.
Huge shout out to a few local businesses that hosted us for stops along the way, donated food and drinks, and just really helped make this hike what it was.
Good Hop's Brewing
Dream Entertainment NC
A&G Barbecue and Chicken
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?? 2021WILMNC) to every hiker. VET Tv was set up with merch, stickers, and great conversation with hikers.
Access of Wilmington - for their previously mentioned unreal donation of the two beach "hoppers" to help accommodate some of our Vets.
Operation Fly our Flag - donated over 20 flags for hikers to carry.
Also a huge thanks to supporting donors: Bug NA Rug Exterminators, Farm Bureau Mayfaire NC, The Groom Room, Innate Health Family Chiropractic and Wellness, Next Page Team Reality, Step Up for Soliders, and The Washington Mortgage Lending Team.
Who Made it Possible
Matthew Reeves - Co-Lead Coordinator
Kyle Page - Co-Lead Coordinator
Marc Simmons- Assistant Coordinator
Stephanie Yost- Assistant Coordinator
JOIN THE DEBAUCHERY
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. We'd like to give specific credit to Access of Wilmington, Ricky Johnson, Jody Ann and Deishali Dewitt for the photos used here - all attendees of the hike. If we missed you, and you'd like individual credit for a photo that shared, please reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org so we can accredit it.