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The Duskin and Stephens Foundation and Tusker Trail join efforts for Kilimanjaro Climb for Valor, August 20 – 30, 2017

 

For the third consecutive year, The Duskin and Stephens Foundation, in conjunction with Tusker Trail, will join efforts for the Kilimanjaro Climb for Valor, a healing climb that sends wounded Special Operations Combat Veterans, family members of Fallen Special Operations Soldiers, and civilians up the 19,341-foot peak.  This year’s climb includes two Combat-wounded Veterans, the brother of a Fallen Special Operations Soldier, the widow of a fallen Green Beret, and the parents of a fallen U.S. Airforce Combat Controller.  Up to eight civilian spots remain available for purchase.

 

The wounded Special Operations Combat Veterans, the team’s Warrior Climbers, are chosen from the Special Operations community for the perseverance and determination shown as they battle through extensive surgeries and rehabilitation programs resulting from combat injuries.  Each of these men has made a profound sacrifice in continued service to their country.

 

Civilian climbers can sign up through Tusker Trail's website.     and click on the link, “Learn More.”

 

For any questions contact: ryan@duskinandstephens.org

 

 

 

 

MEET THE CLIMBERS:

 

 

 

Warrior Climbers

Nate

Gold Star Climbers Mark and Barbara Roland

Gold Star Climber

Brent Sibley

  • Warrior Climber Nate

    Warrior Climber Nate is approaching his 10th year on active duty with the last 7 under the U.S. Army Special Forces Command as a Green Beret.  During these 7 years in the Special Forces community Nate has been deployed multiple times to numerous theaters including Africa and Afghanistan.

    In 2012 Nate was deployed to Afghanistan as part of Operation Enduring Freedom, he and Nick were teammates on the same ODA (Operational Detachment Alpha).  In the November 2012 IED incident in which Nick was shot in the face, Nate had been manning the MK 44 Minigun in the turret of the vehicle that was struck.  Nate was thrown more than 40 feet from the vehicle and received multiple fractures to his left leg and ankle as well as injuries to his head, back and neck.  Nate was evacuated to Walter Reed Medical Center where he rehabilitated and returned to duty on his same ODA.

     

    In August of 2015 Nate and his team were back in Afghanistan.  While returning to the team’s compound from conducting airfield operations inside a friendly Afghan base, his vehicle approached an inner perimeter security checkpoint manned by two Afghan soldiers.  One soldier approached the vehicle while the other stood by the tower of the checkpoint.  The team’s interpreter got out of the vehicle and spoke to the guards.  Moments later, the Afghan soldiers opened fire on the vehicle, instantly killing the driver, Air Force Combat Controller (CCT) Captain Matt Roland, and mortally wounding SSGT Forrest Sibley. Nate returned fire and was struck in the face with a bullet, shattering his jaw.  Nate’s jaw fell from his face and he caught it in his hand.  Noticing Forrest’s wounds Nate began first aide before passing out from loss of blood.  Forrest died soon after.

    Nate was evacuated once again to Walter Reed in Washington D.C.  This time Nick, Nate’s former teammate, escorted Nate to Washington D.C.  Nick was deployed at the same time, but had not yet returned to full operational duty on the ODA.  Nate required major facial reconstruction and massive amounts of airway rehabilitation.

     

    Today Nate and Nick are deployed in combat together, continuing to fight our nation’s enemies as U.S. Army Green Berets.

  • Gold Star Climbers Mark and Barbara Roland

    Gold Star Climbers Mark and Barbara Roland are parents of fallen Air Force Special Tactics Officer (Combat Controller) Captain Matthew Roland who was killed on August 26, 2015. Warrior Climber Nate was wounded while returning fire in the same incident.

     

    Captain Roland was posthumously awarded the Silver Star medal for heroically giving his last full measure to save the lives of his teammates. Seconds before the attack, he recognized the imminent threat and gave his convoy enough time to react to the insider attack with a radio call. Simultaneously, Capt. Roland knowingly put himself in the line of fire by moving the bus to protect the vehicle occupants, giving them precious time to react and neutralize both gunmen. Capt. Roland was transporting Special Operations team members who had just arrived to the forward operating base as part of NATO’s Operation Resolute Support.  He is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

    Matthew was the Team Lead for Blue Team with the 23rd Special Tactics Squadron, Hurlburt Field, FL.

    This was his third deployment since graduating from the US Air Force Academy in 2010 and joining Blue Team in the spring of 2012.  He had previously deployed to Afghanistan and Africa.

    He is survived by his paternal grandparents, maternal grandmother, sister, niece and his parents.

     

    Barbara, Matthew’s mother is a High School Special Education teacher who served as an Air Force Nurse, separating after her first tour of duty.  His father, a retired Air Force officer with 30 years of service served as B-52 and B-1 navigator/bombardier and in various other positions in his career.

  • Gold Star Climber Brent Sibley

    Gold Star Climber Brent Sibley is the father of Air Force Special Tactics Officer (Combat Controller) SSgt Forrest Sibley. Forrest was killed in a green on blue attack on August 26, 2015 alongside Captain Matthew Roland. Warrior Climber Nate was wounded while returning fire in the same incident.

     

    Forrest’s father Brent, explains what his son meant to him, and why he is choosing to climb Mount Kilimanjaro in his honor.

     

    “Forrest Brent Sibley. My only son. Always knew he was special. He had such great qualities from a young age, it was bound to show up. Forward to 2015. SSgt. Forrest Brent Sibley. Combat Controller 21st USAF Special Tactics Squadron. Four deployments, three to Afghanistan, one to Africa with the 24 Delta. Displaying courage, leadership, and bravery in combat saving his team numerous times, yet never a word or mention of his accomplishments. Four Bronze Stars, one with V device, two Purple Hearts, and numerous other commendations. All part of the job he loved more than anything in this world.

     

    Forrest was always the first to help his brothers in arms, whatever was called for. Whether on the job or hanging out, Forrest was the guy everyone wanted to be with. A great sense of humor, he never passed a chance to push the fun meter to 11. As several fellow CCTs have said, when the suck factor was at its worst, Forrest had a word of encouragement, a funny one liner, or a challenge to pick up the pace. On the

    battlefield, whether in combat calling in ordinance or laying out grids for airfields and drops, Forrest gave his all. Throughout the training pipeline, through every deployment, every mission, failure was never an

    option.

     

    Forrest loved to hunt, fish, shoot, hike in the woods, and took every chance to enjoy his love of the outdoors. Not one second goes by that I don't miss him. I will be climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro in his honor.”

     

     

     

Testimonials

 

“I was humbled to be included in the Climb for Valor.

 

After being injured I had a long road back to recovery both mentally and physically. The Climb for Valor gave me a goal and helped motivate me.

 

It was great to be part of a team of like-minded people for the climb.  I enjoyed getting to know the other climbers and hear their stories; it really helped me to gain perspective with respect to my situation and gave me a fresh outlook.

 

The whole experience has given me a great sense of achievement. I would highly recommend this to anyone…”

 

      -Dave (Wounded Special Operator)

 

In 2013 Dave was deployed to Afghanistan as part of Operation Enduring Freedom when the helicopter that he was traveling in crashed. Sustaining head trauma and serious bilateral injuries, including breaking both legs, Dave was revived and treated by the members of his team before being CASEVAC'd. Dave spent the next four months in a wheelchair where he started the long, slow road to rehabilitation.

 

It was an honor for the Duskin and Stephens Foundation to assist in his recovery!

 

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  • Ayron (civilian climber)

    “You’re thinking of climbing Kilimanjaro, eh? From first-hand experience I can tell you that the team at Tusker provides superior customer care and I would not have made it up the hill without Simon and “Pole, Pole.”

     

    Kilimanjaro was never on my radar. I mean that in the most honest and literal form; it was never in my thoughts, never crossed my mind, never a goal, never a glimmer of possibility.  To further drive this point home, I was 2 months from my 40th birthday, at least 40 pounds overweight due to too many hours in an office for most of my 30’s and a long-term relationship with recreational activities such as reading and cooking. I’m a civilian.

     

    I was meeting with Ryan of the Duskin and Stephens Foundation when he mentioned the Climb for Valor and that no one had signed up yet. It was August of 2015 and the Climb was scheduled for the end of April and into early May.  For some reason the words, “I’ll do it” escaped from some long-dormant section of my brain. Being the gentleman that he is, Ryan didn’t even blink or let the incredulity he was surely experiencing cross his face. For that reason, I’ll never play poker with Ryan.

     

    Knowing that athletes can sometimes get attention regular civilians cannot, and with Ryan still in the room, I called Mike Commodore who had recently retired from the NHL. Mike was the one person I knew immediately would consider the request, for while most people know of his colorful personality, I knew he had a heart of gold and would embrace the idea of the Climb for Valor. Mike answered my call, and took all of ten seconds to think about it before he said, “Sure, why not?” So the 2016 Climb team began to take shape.

     

    We would eventually end up with just Mike and I as the civilians and 3 participants from the DSF Family. I will let you learn about them on your own.

     

    If you’re considering this trip, and Maggie, Ryan or Chad have shared this story with you, it’s probably because you’re closer to being me than being Ryan or Chad with their athletic ability and 2% body fat.

     

    So what was the climb like? How did I prepare? What was the camping like? How was the food? Was it scary?

     

    All of these are questions I was asked upon my return, and I’m going to be brutally honest – I did not prepare as well as I should have. Remember me saying Kili wasn’t on my radar? That means that I had no clue about the height of the mountain, the terrain or anything else. Yes, I knew it was 19,400 some-odd feet. I didn’t KNOW how high that was. Maybe I was naive, but I was never afraid of the hike and never really comprehended what other people seemed to consider a daunting idea.

     

    I didn’t really get off my ass and go to the gym until February-March. I liked being comfortable and being overweight is comfortable. I’d spend anywhere from an hour to two on cardio and I’d meet with a trainer to learn strength exercises once a week.  Looking back, this was nearly worthless. The best way to train for Kili is to go Ruck. Get your boots, some weight in your pack and go walk. Walk everywhere. Uphill, downhill, to the mall, to the market. Walk, walk, walk. We walked 44 miles in 8 days and gained 14,000 feet in elevation. We climbed up 3,000 feet and down 6,000 feet on our summit day. Ruck. Ruck your ass off to prepare.

     

    The food was amazing, there are videos on the Tusker site that go into detail about that. The camping is camping; Mike had never camped in his life and I hadn’t since college. If you’re a female and you want to discuss how much fun menstruation is on a hike like this, ask Ryan for my email, we’ll chat about anemia and sanitary supplies.

     

    Was it scary? No, honestly never once was I concerned about my safety. The hotel in Moshi is gated so the aggressive street vendors cannot enter the courtyard and they do med checks twice a day. So physical safety and medical safety was never a concern.

     

    The other thing that everyone seems to ask is, what was the climb like? Calling it a climb is a misnomer. We never did a technical climb, never needed ropes or ice picks. It was a very long, very wet hike with challenging terrain that varied from rainforest and jungle on days 1 & 2 to loose scree on summit day. We had days where we needed our hands to free climb low rock formations, and we had days that were relatively flat long treks in which your hiking poles are your best friend.

     

    We hiked in the wet season; of 8 days on the mountain, it rained 6 of them. Only summit day and descent day were without rainfall. One day, the rains were so bad we hiked upstream, because the trail became a small stream. Your rain gear, if you choose to climb during the wet, is essential. Having waterproof hiking boots, and a secondary pair of shoes for camp that could double as hikers if your shoes get flooded, is an excellent idea. My boots were soaked through after stream day and holding them over a lantern hoping they would dry, was not the best use of time and energy.

     

    You’re probably still wondering, “What was it like?” By this point, I have to assume you’re referring to the mental and emotional aspects of the hike. It was the hardest thing I have ever done in my life, and it was with people who were strangers when we met and when we left, I knew I would value and cherish them forever. On summit day, my asthma was so bad I was hitting my inhaler every 30 minutes for the first three hours. This was also while crying and occasionally vomiting from exertion. Damn that ice cream. At one point, I believe I said, “The mountain wins. Go on without me.” It was at that point that the Tusker guide, the amazing and wonderful Simon, stood in front of me and said, “You can do this. We just go pole pole.” Pole Pole means slow, slow.

     

    Looking at the three people who DSF had put on the team, 3 people who had lost or given more than I could ever fathom for the freedoms and liberties of this country, I shut my mouth, I stopped crying and just went up the mountain, pole pole.

     

    All 5 of us summited Kili.

     

    It will hurt. You will have sore muscles. You may lose toenails and have terrible blisters. You may have a ridiculous sunburn because you forget sunscreen on summit day. You will sweat and stink. You might have crazy nightmares because of the anti-malaria medications.  None of this will matter, because you are doing something that only 35,000 people a year attempt, and you are doing it for all the right reasons. You will see a sky so brilliantly clear that every star is visible, and you realize how spectacular being alive is. You will meet people that will change your life. You will dance at sunrise, and you will cry at the beauty of a sunset.

     

    I kept waiting for my epiphany on the mountain. Hoping that there would be some clarification to my purpose, my value in this world. Don’t saddle yourself with that expectation – because if you’re in each moment on that Mountain, if you breathe deep and keep your eyes open, you don’t need that lightning bolt; you’ll realize you’re exactly where you’re meant to be and doing exactly what you are meant to be doing.

     

    Pole pole, friends and enjoy the journey.”

     

                                 -Ayron (civilian climber)

     

     

     

 2017 KILIMANJARO CLIMB FOR VALOR

AUGUST 20 - 30, 2017

"BIG MIKE" DUSKIN

 RILEY STEPHENS

SHOP

© Copyright 2015 Duskin & Stephens Foundation