Seasons Greetings!

As the end of the year approaches, I look back on a 2010 that was exhausting, but exciting and fulfilling too. I had many highlights but the absolute apex was my Soldiers to the Summit Expedition in October. I was recently combing through www.soldierstothesummit.org and found two letters, one from the mother of our soldier teammate, Mat Nyman, and the second from Brian Smith, who leads 3DATS, one of our sponsors. It's a satisfying feeling to know this climb made a difference in both of their lives.

Below are reprinted both letters:

I am speaking as a mother to one of your climbers (Matt Nyman) and also as a friend to other mothers of wounded soldiers. I don’t know if you will ever understand the profound effect you have had on not only your climbers lives, but to those around them.

I can’t imagine what it is like to be able to summit the mountains, when these young men and women have been forever changed by each of their injuries. The gift you have given each of the climbers, and their family and friends cannot be measured in dollars, nor can it ever be repaid.

Each of these courageous soldiers have pushed both their minds and their bodies to places I am sure they thought they would never again be able to go. I know this is just the first in many new and life changing experiences for each of them. You all will have so many new doors open to you simply because you have a new sense of self confidence, and your experience is something not only to be proud of, but that others will look to you as a role model.

To the climbers that put on this expedition, may God continue to watch over you and bless you for what you have done for each of these young men and women. For you to come back to each of these soldiers, and see what they continue to do with their lives would be great.

To all of the sponsors of this climb, I want to say thank you. When deciding how to allocate future funds for causes that come your way, I hope you continue to support this cause. It has such a profound and life changing effect on not just the climbers but also their friends and families. Kudos to you for giving to such a good cause. You could be proud to have any one of these young men and women represent your company.

Sometimes donors wonder if the money that they gave to a cause is being used well, and if it really helped or made a difference. Let me say that I have never seen a cause for the wounded warriors that 100% helps each of them and others around them. I will make sure to purchase from when I can from each sponsor.

—REBECCA HICKMAN

I’ve donated to many charities over the years, everything from St. Jude’s to Paws with a Cause, but I’ve never felt that my charity has had as meaningful and worthwhile an impact as the one made for this expedition. As a fellow soldier, I am humbled by what all these soldier climbers have gone through and the drive that they have shown. The impact that the expedition has made on the soldiers is very obvious, and it would be obvious to anyone that has followed the expedition at all. Hopefully all the soldiers know that many others (sponsors, support personnel, friends, and family) have also been impacted in no small way as well.

The precision displayed in the planning and execution of this entire expedition appears (at least from my perspective) as simply amazing, and fittingly similar to a well-executed military maneuver. My hats off to all of the admin and support personnel that pulled this off and got the soldiers safely up and down the mountain.

I’m sure many of the other sponsors feel the same way.

—Brian Smith
CGschool / MAJ U.S. Army

I wish you a wonderful holiday season! This is a time to count our many blessings—despite the challenges we all experience.

Erik

PS in case you missed it, this Veteran's Day video tribute from our climb is also relevant for the holidays.