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Seahawks, Camp Patriot team up at fundraiser to help injured veterans
For the 2.3 million injured veterans in the United States, recovery is a grueling climb with an unsure end. Camp Patriot and the Seattle Seahawks are working to make sure those veterans can still achieve their goals and dreams.
"They are warriors at heart and they love a challenge," said Bill Clark, board secretary and treasurer of Camp Patriot. "They started getting challenged from the day they joined the military, until the day they got injured. You want to keep challenging them to keep that warrior spirit alive."
The Seahawks are teaming with Camp Patriot to host a charity fundraiser July 9 at Century Link Field (formerly Qwest Field). Camp Patriot works to help injured veterans accomplish their goals through outdoor activities, including hunting, fishing, snowmobiling, white-water rafting and even climbing Mount Rainier.
"Our goal is to make enough money for Camp Patriot to be able to answer all of the calls that come in," said Mike Flood, vice president of community relations for the Seahawks and Sounders FC.
This year, three injured veterans will take part in the Mount Rainier Summit Challenge July 11-14. Curtis Fawley, of Rainier Mountaineering, Inc., is Camp Patriots' head guide for the Summit Challenge. Fawley has more than 100 summits of Rainier.
Camp Patriot first took Scotty Smiley on Mount Rainier in 2007. Clark said Smiley, completely blind from an explosion in Iraq, was in excellent shape but the physical challenge of the mountain was still daunting.
"It's difficult to explain to people just how challenging something like Rainier is until they actually step on the mountain," Clark said. "It's one tough stinking mountain to climb."
Now Fawley trains with injured veterans in Arizona, climbing peaks like Mount Humphreys (elevation 13,986 feet) to prepare for Rainier.
"We take these guys, some of them missing limbs, they've been laid up in a hospital for quite some time," Clark said. "A lot of them have put on weight, they've lost their physical tone. So we started working down in Arizona."
The Seahawks first became involved in 2007 when Issaquah High School graduate and Navy SEAL Ryan Job came in contact with the team. Job was blinded by a sniper's bullet in 2006 in Iraq.
"He was a big Seahawks fan and started talking to us about the games," Flood said. "Sometimes coaches would call and talk with him after games. He became pretty tight with the organization."
Job said he was going to climb Rainier and Seahawks were introduced to Camp Patriots' executive director and founder Micah Clark (Bill Clark's son). The team hosted the veteran climbers and Camp Patriot leaders at Century Link Field. After witnessing the cause first-hand, the team decided to become more involved and host a fundraising banquet. Flood, a Coast Guard veteran, joined Camp Patriot's board in 2009.
"It's a tremendous healing process," Flood said. "It takes guy who had a lot of goals in mind and things they wanted to do. Now they're laid up and thinking, 'Now what? What am I going to do? Can I still pursue my dreams?' Our goal is to let them know they can still get out there and accomplish things and recapture the same spirit they had."
How to buy tickets for fundraiser or donate to Camp Patriot
WHEN: July 9, 6 - 8:30 p.m.
WHERE: Century Link Field, West Club
WHAT: Reception, silent, auction, speech by Allen Clark, a West Point graduate who lost both legs in Vietnam
HOW MUCH: $100