Eighteen Marines, One Mission: Hike the 1,000 mile "Mountains -to-Sea Trail" in North Carolina to support injured Marines through the Semper Fi Fund.
This hike has developed for the Fortunate Sons into a way to remember wounded brothers in arms, honor fallen comrades and show gratitude for those who have sacrificed so much in the name of freedom. Seeing the teamwork of these Marines has inspired others to show their support and host their own local events. Many pledged to walk 1,000 miles, some sold bracelets, and others held fundraisers in their own communities as a way to honor and support our injured heroes.
What follows is an excerpt from a letter, written by Captain Mark Greenlief, with an update on this incredible experience:
Overall, the hike has been an amazing experience for all of us. We have been given the opportunity to meet a lot of generous and kind people along the trail. The support from communities along the way was amazing and it never ceases to amaze us all of the support North Carolinians have for the Marines. From our initial event at the Nantahala Outdoor Center, the events with the Marine Corps League, the amazing hospitality at the Hilton and Brioso Restaurant in Biltmore Park, the much needed sandwich at the Black Mountain Campground, the welcome events sponsored by ROADS in Stokesdale, the barbeque in Raleigh, the dinner in New Bern, Barbara Darden and the Swansboro Rotarians, and overwhelming support from the amazing people throughout the journey have really made this experience one we will all remember.
We have not only seen support in North Carolina but throughout the country. Specifically in communities like Monmouth and Prospect Heights, IL. In the town of Monmouth, Deborah Greenlief has organized the community in support of Fortunate Sons and the Semper Fi Fund. They have sold Fortunate Sons/Semper Fi Fund bracelets, pledged to walk hundreds of miles, made multiple announcements at the local high school football games, and donated their time and heart to the cause. In Prospect Heights, IL young Emily Gramer has donated her time and raising awareness for Fortunate Sons and the Semper Fi Fund though her school involvement, selling bracelets and organizing support. It has been amazing to see the outpouring of support for the Semper Fi Fund and Fortunate Sons. We are reminded daily of the support for the Marine Corps throughout the nation.
It has been a tough journey, the toughest physical event that I have personally ever done. When we initially thought of the idea, we all thought that the 'trail' was a wide open path winding though the forest. What we found were goat paths, switch-backing up and down, winding through the mountains. This challenge we all accepted and thoroughly enjoyed; giving us all the opportunity to learn a little about ourselves.
It has been a testament to the Marines and their dedication to themselves and the Semper Fi Fund that they completed their mission. Despite the injuries, weather, time, aches and pains, they succeeded in accomplishing what we set out to do, finish the trail in 42 days, raise awareness for the Injured Marines Semper Fi Fund, and meet amazing people in the communities on the trail.
This has been an experience that we all will forever remember. A time when we all came together to help our fellow Marines. It has been an honor to be part of the Semper Fi Fund and Fortunate Sons. We all look forward to continuing this relationship with endurance events in the future.
Thanks again, Mark