Wounded soldiers prepare to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro
Posted February 12, 2015
Fort Bragg, N.C. — Two combat-wounded Special Forces soldiers and the widow of a soldier killed in Afghanistan are preparing to embark on the Climb for Valor.
Through the Tusker Trail climbing company and soldiers Chad Lawson and Dan Pritchard, Jessie and Tyler will set out to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. The 11-day climb begins Feb. 15.
Their last names are being withheld due to safety concerns, according to the military.
"The climb is about a chance for the families to see what's out there after they are done with the healing process," Pritchard said. "There's a lot of guys that get caught up with the idea that once they become a wounded warrior, there is not much they can continue to do."
Jessie and Tyler are on active duty and just returned from deployment. They are both stationed at Fort Bragg.
"Jessie was caught by an IED that left him with burns over 66 percent of his body," Lawson said. "Tyler was shot in the forearm and ran the risk of losing the lower half of his arm."
Despite their wounds, they will climb more than 19,000 feet to the summit.
Brittany Grider will also join the team. Grider is the widow of SFC Aaron Grider, a dog handler who was killed five years ago in Afghanistan.
"We can feel really isolated with grief and looking around and seeing that there's a lot of people suffering out there in different ways and to know that maybe we can do to help them out a little bit," she said.
Lason and Pritchard started the Duskin-Stephens Foundation in 2013. The mission of the foundation is to provide scholarships for children of Special Forces soldiers.
"Our goal is to make sure kids in the community are getting the opportunity to get an education that will get them to college." Pritchard said.
The trio of climbers leave for Africa Friday.