Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The Wounded Walk - Mission: Mojave, Day 1

I've been following The Wounded Walk ever since last year, when Adam Shatarsky and Chris Senopole started a 2,700 mile journey to Washington D.C. from Camp Pendleton, Ca. Their mission was to raise awareness of the trials and tribulations that veteran's go through when returning home.

They are based on the Virginia, and I've always wanted for them to do something in the west coast again. That's when they came up with Mission: Mojave. A walk that takes them from Palm Springs to Phoenix, Az., straight through the Mojave desert... an estimated 270 mile trek through the desert heat.

I went out to meet Adam, and Ross Delafield, and their long time friend Jeremy Lee, and joined them on their first day of their journey. We walked from Palm Springs to Rancho Mirage. 9 miles in triple digit heat. It was an amazing experience. It started with meeting great supporters at the starting point, like Cindy, her friend Deanna, Edward, Vietnam War veteran with the U.S. Marine Corpse, and his friend Pat, who served in the U.S. Navy in the Vietnam War. People that have followed The Wounded Walk as long as I have. Edward, happens to be a fellow UPSer.

Edward met Adam and Chris last year during their first walk. The Wounded Walk were walking along the highway when Edward, driving his UPS truck, pulled over, stopped Adam and Chris, and told them, "I just wanted to tell you I'm a Vietnam veteran. I suffer from PTSD, I've never told anyone in my life and I wanted to give you a hug."

It was a sight to see them reconnect after a year since that happened. Edward didn't think Adam would remember him, but how could he not? Adam remembered Edward well, even his cell phone case.

The walk started with 6 of us. Adam, Ross, Cindy, her friend Deanna, Edward, and myself. Cindy, Deanna, and Edward joined us for just over 2 miles until our first rest stop. Once they departed, I told Adam and Ross that I not only was walking to support them and their cause, but I was also walking in honor of a few veterans: my dear friend Sandra and her two friends, Yvette (initial deployment to Iraq, 2003, 25th ID, U.S. Army) and Juan (Purple Heart recipient, served as a Marine and Soldier, 82nd Airborne, U.S. Army). I also walked for Charlie, a Vietnam War veteran from 1st Recon with the U.S. Marine Corpse, and my neighbor Lowell, a combat engineer with the U.S. Marine Corpse.

My Camelbak with patches for those I walked for. Photo by The Wounded Walk.

It was down to Adam, Ross, and I the rest of the way. Throughout the walk, we had many vehicles that honked at us in support, and friendly smiles waving at us. We even had a person who owned a company that made cookies from natural ingredients give us a couple to munch on. A nice gesture.

Along the way, we stopped to meet up with another awesome supporter, Kimmie. She has also been following The Wounded Walk since last year. Her little girls think very highly of The Wounded Walk to call them superheroes. They were super excited to meet Adam again for the 2nd time, a year after their first encounter.

Seeing how much support The Wounded Walk were getting made the walk a little easier. The heat really didn't feel too bad, until we got closer to the end, at least not for me. I think the experience of it all was really helping me along.

After walking 9 miles in 105 degree heat, and drenched in sweat, we finally made it to our destination.

What was the first thing the boys did when arriving at the Westin Mission Hills? Jump in the pool, of course. I don't have photos of that but they do.

Here are more photos of the day.

Adam speaking with Edward.

Myself with Adam.

Met some friends along the way.

A gift for Adam.

"To The Wounded Walk, your courage inspires me." - Kimmie

More gifts for Adam.

Meet Courage. He joined The Wounded Walk.

The following photos are from Cindy.

Jerry, Edward speaking with Cindy and Deanna.

Clockwise: Deanna, Cindy, Xochitl (From the Desert Sun), Jerry, Edward, and Dean (sitting).

Cindy and Deanna.

Deanna, Cindy, Jeremy, Edward, Jerry and Edward's friend, Pat, who served in the U.S. Navy during the Vietnam War.

Jeremy, Adam, Cindy, and Ross.

Shortly after beginning the walk. 

When I first met Cindy. She's super awesome!

Deanna, Ross, Adam, and Cindy.

The following photos are from Edward.

Jeremy, Adam, Edward, Ross, Jerry

Jerry, Adam, Edward, and Pat. 

Cindy, Jerry, and Deanna.

Jerry, Adam, and Edward.

The next two photos are from professional photographer Omar Ornelas from The Desert Sun.

I was really fortunate that I happen to be on vacation when they started this journey. It was an amazing experience walking with these guys for a great cause, as well as meeting great people. Adam and Ross were welcoming, thankful, and grateful for the support they have received. It was a pleasure meeting them and will keep in touch with them and those I met that day.

To find out more about The Wounded Walk, you can visit the following links.

Official Website: The Wounded Walk
Facebook: The Wounded Walk
Twitter: @TheWoundedWalk
Instagram: @TheWoundedWalk
Official The Wounded Walk Webstore: The Locker Room VA / The Wounded Walk 
NBC News Article about their first walk: Marines Walk 2,700 Miles for Wounded Veterans