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Warrior Expeditions: Ride the Divide

FT Program Director, Alex Stigliano writes, 

I first learned of Warrior Expeditions in 2014, shortly after joining the FT Program staff, and I immediately connected to their mission. I came from a professional background of leading people on multi-day backcountry expeditions. I saw first-hand the transformative effect of time spent outdoors. I believe nature can bring out the best in people. Time spent away from roads, electricity, and commerce challenges us with new perspectives that inspire positive changes to our lives and communities. This is the basic premise of Warrior Expeditions.

Warrior Expeditions is a veteran nonprofit outdoor therapy program that helps veterans transition from their wartime experiences. The program recognizes the therapeutic effects of long distance outdoor treks. With the support of the FTA and US Forest Service, Warrior Expeditions has sponsored veterans to hike the entire Florida Trail. These warriors and their stories have inspired many of us, including Mike Umbarger, an FTA member, volunteer and veteran.

Mike recently spoke with me about how Warrior Expeditions inspired him to create Ride the Divide for Warriors, a long-distance biking journey designed to raise support for this impactful program.

“Back in 2013 I was fortunate enough to complete my 2 ½ year section hike of the Florida Trail with my two sons, Zack 15 years old and Cody “Bear” 12 years old. We are still very thankful to the members and volunteers of the Florida Trail Association who made our adventure possible. I believe Ride the Divide for Warriors is a cause that FTA members would want to support.

“This August, Scott Renaux, Wilson Ospina, and I will be riding our mountain bikes along the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route. This 10 week, 3084-mile adventure will start in Jasper Alberta Canada heading south along the great divide to the border of Mexico, ending at Antelope Wells, NM. The purpose of this ride is to raise awareness and funds for Warrior Expeditions.

“Warrior Expeditions states that it cost approximately $5000 to equip and send one veteran on a long distance expedition (at no cost to the veteran). Ride the Divide for Warriors endeavors to raise $20,000 in order to send an entire Fire-Team (4-person team) on an expedition.

Mike has asked the FTA to pass along the following challenge to our members:

The Ride the Divide for Warriors team would like to challenge each member of the Florida Trail Association to donate just $2.00 to Warrior Expeditions help veterans recover from their wartime experience. With your help, members of the Florida Trail Association can fully equip and send more veterans on long-term expeditions.

To make a tax deductible donation, click here. Also, please click on the “add special instructions to the seller,” and enter “FTA” so that the members of the Florida Trail Association can be recognized for their support.

You can learn more about Ride the Divide for Warriors and follow their adventure on the following pages (click to follow the link):

Ride The Divide For Warriors website