By: Rachel Bennett
Tribune Recorder Leader
In May of 2010, my family’s lives were changed forever. We were informed of my cousin Kyle’s passing. So what’s the big deal, right? Unfortunate, yes, but people die everyday. My cousin was a Captain in the United States Army and was serving overseas in Afghanistan. It was shocking and unexpected. He had
only been married a few years and his daughter was just celebrating her 6th month of life. My perspective on patriotism and what our veterans do for us changed dramatically. Many people don’t fully understand the sacrifice our veterans make until it’s too late to thank the brave men and women who defend our country and our freedoms. In the thumb area, Veterans day comes and goes without much fanfare.
What can we do to get out and support our veterans? As a teacher, I have tried to educate my students about the true meaning of Veterans day. I’ve done this by reading books, sharing videos and setting up ‘America’s White Table’ in the school cafeteria on Veterans day. I’ve recently been made aware of The Heroes Project. This is a foundation started by Tim Metvetz, a former Hell’s Angel, daredevil and custom motorcycle builder and seller. He was hit by a truck while riding his motorcycle. He had several operations to put his ravaged body back together. He has metal plates in his skull, his back has a titanium cage, and several plates and screws in his knee. The doctors didn’t have much hope of him recovering or walking again. He awoke from the life saving surgeries on September 11, 2001 to find the World Trade Centers on fire and collapsing. He struggled to accept his new body and the world after 9/11. He read the book, ‘Into Thin Air’ and it gave him hope. He vowed to climb Mt. Everest. He moved to Nepal and began rehabbing his mind and body through sherpas, Muay Thai and several smaller climbs in the Himalayas to prepare for Everest. In the 4 years he was in Nepal, he was able to climb Everest twice.
When he returned to the US, he thought about his journey and how he fought through the depression of injury and realized he wanted to give back but wasn’t sure how. A news broadcast about Veterans day and disabled and disfigured veterans returning to civilian life seemed all too familiar. He decided he could give back to our veterans and share his story of his accident and his return to “normal” by mount climbing therapy. In the fall of 2009, Tim founded The Heroes Project, a foundation dedicated to raising funds to help more severely injured men and women to climb the world’s highest peaks and find a renewed purpose and belief in themselves.
This year my son and I went to southern California and participated in the Climb for Heroes. What is the Climb for Heroes? It’s a hiking fundraiser for the Heroes Project. Participants are able to hike up Mt. Baldy and experience the difficulty of the climb, meet disabled veterans and learn how far they have come to rehab their mind and body. All proceeds are used for supporting future hikes for veterans, supporting veterans from injury to mountain top, and this year building a retreat center for disabled veterans to stay and train for upcoming hikes. To learn more about the Heroes Project check out theheroesproject.org.