Our expedition to the Grand Canyon was very rewarding. We successfully hiked from rim to rim, although it wasn’t easy. Our hike down from the north rim was very challenging. It was very steep and that made it challenging for our bilateral amputees, Steve Martin and Matthew Melancon. Imagine the pain as they hiked 14 miles in 16 hours while descending 5700ft. Each step causing pain as their prosthetic would pound into their residual limb. Our guides from Arizona Outback Adventures (AOA) encouraged the team the whole way. Josh and Megan Anderson would not rest until our team was safe and in their rooms at Phantom Ranch, which was about midnight. Our blind veteran, Mike Malarsie showed total trust in our guides as he took each step in confidence knowing that the team was leading him safely down the sometimes very narrow path. Our guide Elizabeth Griffiths made sure he never stumbled the whole way, almost 26 miles in total for the trip! While at Phantom Ranch we were able to relax for a day and take a dip in the very cool Colorado River. The journey up the south rim the next day was also very challenging, 10 miles and an elevation gain of 4300ft. This was especially challenging for above the knee amputee Nicole Roundy as it was difficult to step up with only one natural knee. Our other veterans such as Peter Quintanilla and Frank Wasson were always around to assist in any way that they could. Some of our veterans, Juan, Tim and Mike almost couldn’t be slowed down as they were so prepared and ready to take on this challenge. A special shout out to Tammy Heniser our Air Force trauma nurse and Beach Helterbrand, a brain cancer survivor, for the outstanding job they did during the very long days we had. Not once did they complain. Finally, our support team of Mark Heniser, Brian Miller and our cameraman Bevan Bell had outstanding roles and accomplished them with great professionalism. We were met by some members of 12th Air Force as we rose out of the canyon on Sept 11th. What a great way to honor that day! So many in our country lost their lives on that day and in the subsequent wars that followed, we wanted to honor them and show that with a lot of hard work, you can rise up to overcome the challenges you may face.
One thought on “Mission Complete”
Outstanding accomplishment by all. Thank you, Tron and team, for serving our wounded warriors in this special, life changing way!