For the past three and a half months Sean Gobin and Mark Silvers, recently separated from the U.S. Marine Corps, have been hiking the Appalachian Trail to raise money in order to purchase adaptive vehicles for veterans who have suffered amputations due to their service in Iraq and Afghanistan. On Thursday, Gobin, 36, of Richmond, R.I. and Silvers, 27, of Danville, Va., were in Manchester to attend a fund-raiser for the Warrior Hike at the Harned-Fowler VFW Post 6471.
The event was the 32nd Gobin and Silvers have participated in since beginning the journey on March 14 at the trail head in Springer Mountain, Ga. In an interview
Joe Lumsden, Post Commander of the Harned-Fowler VFW 6471, said the VFW contributed $2,500 to the cause and over $300 was earned from the dinner.
"We had two people that really wanted to push this through. We only had a short amount of time, but this was a worthwhile cause," said Lumsden. "These kids (Gobin and Silvers) are out there busting their hump everyday and their doing it for such a worthy cause. It was the best way to show our appreciation for their hard work and their sacrifice. We were just
The fund-raiser - which has raised over $27,000 to date - began with Gobin's long-running interest in hiking the trail. Though he attempted to hike it after he graduated from college, Gobin said his commitment to the Marine Corps did not provide him with enough time to do so. As a result he had to wait until he was off active duty. Gobin said he eventually talked Silvers into joining him on the 2,180 mile trek and that it was Silvers idea to turn the hike into a fund-raiser for wounded veterans.
"When we were in Afghanistan we saw a lot of young service members coming through the base on their way home with debilitating injuries and severe amputations and seeing that made me wonder what can we do about this," said Silvers. "We wanted to give back in some way and it aligned well with hiking the trail."
Gobin and Silvers partnered with Ride-Away - which is one of the largest providers of wheelchair vans, vehicle modifications, and adaptive equipment, according to the company's Web site.
Each vehicle grant costs between $5,000 and $10,000 and Silvers said they will be looking to provide as many grants as possible.
Gobin said they are currently working with the president of Ride-Away to help identify who the recipients of the grants are.
"They've actually already got a couple of people in mind so once we get that list finalized we'll start issuing the grants soon," said Gobin. "We'll probably get the first couple grants issued before the hike's out and then we'll probably still have the additional grants being issued when we finish after July."
As of Friday morning, Gobin and Silvers were set to resume hiking the trail with the next fund-raising event scheduled for July 7 in Haverhill, N.H. Their final stop will be the northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail at Katahdin, Maine. Only another 500 miles to go.