Go Ape Treetop Adventures and Zipline can be both exhilarating and empowering for first-time visitors. Set 30, 40 and even 50 feet in the air, the obstacles test a person's strength while also forcing fears to take a back seat.
The Suiting Warriors Foundation, an organization dedicated to assisting veterans as they transition back into civilian life, is hoping to capitalize on the empowering nature of the course with its inaugural "Ropes for Hopes" fundraiser next weekend at the zipline's home at Lums Pond State Park in Bear.
The goal, according to event coordinator and foundation creator Star Lotta, is to raise money towards one of the charity's main goals: professional attire that will allow recently returned veterans to compete in today's job market.
The idea stems from tragedy. Lotta's cousin, a former marine, died three years ago. At the funeral, she noticed that most of her cousin's military friends weren't in their "dress blues." After talking to them, she learned that many of them had to turn their uniforms in when they were discharged. Most of the men also confessed that their post-military benefits often took upwards of a year to process leaving them with no financial means to buy military or civilian clothes.
The organization, which celebrated its one-year anniversary at the end of September, collects work-appropriate clothing and donations and tries to connect veterans with job-seeking resources. According to the organization's website, 300 suits for men, 100 suits for women and 200 ties and accessories have been collected thus far.
The event needs at least 28 participants who can raise $300 each or $500 as a pair. The full course—40 obstacles and five ziplines—will be accessible to participants. Event t-shirts are provided to all pre-registered participants. A pre-course breakfast, water during the course and a post-course tailgate will be provided for all participants.
Check-in will begin at 8 a.m., Saturday, Oct. 26. Start times will then be staggered every 30 minutes, beginning at 9 a.m., following a half-hour orientation and safety training. The course, though challenging, is open to everyone 10 years old or older. Lotta said that six children and three families are participating so far and it's important to her that people know that the course, though challenging, is not impossible.
"This is going to be a fun event to really focus on the kind of services veterans need," Lotta explained, adding that it's important to take notice of what veterans in every community need to be successful. "If we don't help the veterans in our communities transition, we are not going to be grow as community."