While day hiking on the AT this past Saturday, I ran into a couple of thru hiking dudes, Mark Silvers and Sean Gobin. They're 2 Marines hiking the AT to raise money for veterans wounded during combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. This is a little bit about their organization, taken from their site:
The Warrior Hike story:
During the summer of 2011, while deployed to Afghanistan, I attended countless memorial services and made many visits to the hospital to see wounded Marines and Sailors. Struck by the number of service members going home with debilitating injuries, I wondered what I could do to help. It was decided to hike all 2180 miles of the Appalachian Trail and host 38 separate fund raisers at Veterans of Foreign Wars Posts along the trail to raise donations in order to purchase adaptive vehicles for veterans who have suffered multiple amputations during combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
While talking to Mark and Sean about what they were doing, and more importantly why, I was incredibly moved not only by the sacrifices they made so that dopes like me have the luxury of doing ridiculous things like running and hiking, but also what they were giving back to their military brothers and sisters. It was very humbling. Speaking of humble, it wasn't until I got home and checked out their site that I realized they were on the Today show this past Tuesday. They never said a word. If it were me on the Today show I would have made up t-shirts announcing that I'd done so.
Even if you can't spare a few bucks toward their cause, a few words of encouragement may help them when they're feeling down. One of the best pieces of advice I've received so far for my thru hike was from Sean. I'm paraphrasing but the basic message was that when you're walking for a charity, failure is not an option. I'll do my best to remember that when the nightmare factory in my head tells me to stop walking.
Life is a matter of inches and seconds, and it's amazing how 2 very brief conversations with 2 complete strangers can have such a profound effect.
“Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars". Khalil Gibran