T.I.O “Ultra Hike” -Not a fundraising event for the faint of heart!
On April 14th 2018, we as an organization had the humbling experience to see something truly powerful unfold. April 14th was True Impact Outdoors’ first Hike-a-thon through the hills and valleys of the Ozarks in south Missouri. A group of 6 Marines spent 7 weeks preparing, fundraising, and collecting sponsorships for what would be one of the most physically and mentally demanding challenges to date. The hike was to consist of two goals, 1) 26.5 miles and 2) Completed in less than 12 hours. The morning of April 14th started as a typical early spring morning, cool and overcast; moral was high and energy even higher. The Marines gathered in a tight circle, hard to hear the words being said, and without notice or hesitation it began.
It was truly inspirational to see the looks on their faces when they took that first step forward, it was on, and there would be no turning back. Fast forward to mile 6, the temperature had dropped and rain is now mixed with their sweat. The Marines took their first break, regrouped, filled their water, soaked in the view... I overheard one say, "I bet there are so many who wish they could see this view right now" as they looked over the valley in the April mist. It was implied that as they stood on the high point of the mountain looking down that there are men and women who will never be able get to that exact point and see that exact view.
It was at that moment the intensity went through the roof. Out came the portable speaker and it was a mad dash, as we had to now catch up. Mile 7...8...9...10, nothing but sheer determination. Something happened on top of that mountain overlooking the valley, what? We will never know for sure, but a bond was made. Out of that group of Marines, a family emerged.
Mile 13 and ahead of schedule the Marines took their second real break, if break is what you would call it. It was 15 minutes of true selflessness. Atmosphere was nothing shy of brotherhood. After 13 miles I would have expected a lot of moaning and groaning, complaining and struggle. What I witnessed were acts of encouragement and comradery. Passing out water, snacks, helping each other stretch, checking each other over. Not one person was in it for themselves and to see them put others needs ahead of their own was truly moving. Mile 13-20 was nothing shy of some of the worse conditions of the day. The wind had picked up, the clouds thickened, and the boots seemed to get heavier. Surely the complaining would begin by now. Calling it quits would at that point still been a feat in and of its self. Laughter, all I heard was laughter. I asked them what could possibly be so funny? Their reply, EMBRACE THE SUCK BROTHER!
Mile 20, with 6 more miles to go and the Marines take their last scheduled break. As they sit in the circle, we are in awe at not what they are overcoming but how they are doing it. They again stretched each other out, rubbed sore muscles, helped change each other’s socks, and ensured each had enough water in their packs to finish strong. How can they ever be able to finish this? There's no way! As we began trailing them a loud yell lets out, "Failure is NOT an option!" The American flag they have been carrying changes hands one last time, this time to the Marine who identified she was diagnosed with pneumonia last week from the hands of the Marine who told us at mile 10 she has consultation for hip surgery the following week. Cresting the final incline, the Marines are now in pain, unbearable, excruciating pain. Agony is written all over their faces. They have now broken up in to 3 teams of 2 walking side by side. Each have found that one specific person in the group to push them the last mile. Crossing the finish line was with these Marines is a memory I will never forget. They came, they saw, and they conquered. Collapsing to the ground with smiles on their faces and tears in their eyes, they made it. Mission accomplished and a job well done Marines. When asked why they did what they did, why they put their bodies through such pain and the minds through such a challenge their response was simple, "There are people in this world who would give their lives to walk just one more mile and live with this pain every day, who are we to complain about 26.5 miles?" Over all it wasn't 26.5 miles in 12 hours, it was actually 28.9 miles in 10 1/2 hours. Goals? They crushed them. Dreams? They live them. Family? They are!
Thank you to all the donors and for all of the support from family and friends to make this possible. Our goal was to raise $2,500 for a handicap accessible hunting blind. With your support we far exceeded that and raised a total of $6,200. There is power behind passion and it was your passion and support that carried us through. TOGETHER STRONG… TOGETHER UNBROKEN!