By Marybeth Peluzzo
On Saturday Sept. 23, KU veteran students team up with River House to experience the most difficult trail Hawk Mountain has to offer. The students were also able to enjoy some homemade Chile and cornbread after the hike. Along with a delicious dinner, the students helped churn homemade ice cream. This was all thanks to River House directors Cindy Ross and husband, Todd Gladfelter.
“It was horrifically fun adventure, unlike anything I’ve ever done before. I got three smores’ after and it was totally worth it” said, Tori Hernandez, marine veteran KU student.
Stephanie Casado, KU veteran center coordinator, worked with Ross and RH board member Dr. Gambone to organize the hike and dinner. Gambone is a history professor here at KU and advisor for the Military club on top of being a veteran himself.
Casado said, “It was a wonderful way to connect with each other and nature. It was awesome to forget about the real world and take in the moment.” Casado was able to bring her husband and 6 year old daughter Maya to the event. “It was a challenge by the end especially carrying my daughter on my shoulders and focusing where to place my feet around the rocks.”
According to their website, “River House PA facilitates healing through nature, in the form of outdoor adventures, recreational opportunities and workshops for veterans and their families who have been affected by trauma.” RH is a non-profit organization that helps to find an outdoor activity to speak to a participant’s soul. The activities offered vary from hiking and backpacking to kayaking and cycling. RH teaches the activities and helps participants incorporate them into their daily life for continued healing.
Ross and Gladfelter work together to plan outdoor activities with various veterans and families. They not only take veterans and families on outdoor adventures, they host them in their log cabin home for campfires and homemade dinners.
Along with all her service work, Ross has six published books where she writes of her adventures in A Woman’s Journey on the Appalachian Trail, Journey on the Crest, and Scraping Heaven– A Family’s Journey Along the Continental Divide.
The KU veteran center and the Military club at KU worked together on this event and are looking forward to planning another one like this in the spring.