A way to say thank you.
An opportunity for camaraderie.
A means to build confidence.
These were among the themes of the evening on Oct. 6, at the Veterans Climb event at the Boundless Adventures aerial adventure park within Kenosha County’s Bristol Woods Park.
Military veterans and their families were invited to climb the ropes courses for free and others paid to climb, with all proceeds benefitting Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 7308 in Pleasant Prairie.
“I have one message to you guys: Thank you,” said Brian Funtleyder, who owns Boundless Adventures with his wife, Lorrie. “Thank you for keeping my family and my country safe. You’re heroes, and you guys are appreciated.”
In all, about 150 people climbed, while others came just to take in the festivities.
A special guest was Jason Church, an Army veteran who lost both of his legs when an improvised explosive device went off while his unit was on a routine patrol in Afghanistan in 2012. He was 23 at the time and underwent 20 surgeries throughout his recovery.
On Friday night, he walked about the event on his two prosthetic legs, chatting with fellow veterans and thanking event organizers.
For veterans who have been asked to do very difficult things, having something that removes them from that weight and having a community that understands is important, Church said.
“Doing things like this here are what bring that confidence back, when you can remove yourself from that place of trauma and conflict,” Church said. “When you can remove your mind and emotions from that part of it and you can come to a place like this, where you can push yourself again, that is rejuvenating. It gives you purpose, and it shows that you have the ability, if you believe in yourself, to overcome really any obstacle”
Overcoming obstacles is a primary element of Boundless Adventures, which operates in a public-private partnership with Kenosha County Parks. The park within a park features six acres of obstacle courses of varying difficulty, utilizing cables connected to trees and utility poles.
County Executive Samantha Kerkman — who climbed the ropes with one of her sons at Friday’s event — credited the Funtleyders and Boundless Adventures for their strong partnership with the county, and for their dedication to supporting veterans. This was the third such event that the park has held since it opened in 2019.
“We’re here tonight to say thank you to our veterans in our community as we come upon Veterans Day next month,” Kerkman said. “These are the things that are so special about our state and our country, and why we’re all here. Freedom isn’t free. And we must take the time to honor our veterans every single day.”
Kerkman also recognized two members of the County Board, both veterans — Andy Berg and John Poole — who took part in Friday’s event.
Also present, sharing information with veterans, were representatives of the Blue Star Mothers of Southeastern Wisconsin Chapter No. 2 and the Kenosha County Division of Veterans Services.
Jennifer Blasi, the county’s assistant director of veterans services, said the experience of climbing the ropes together was beneficial for veterans themselves and for their families.
“For the veterans here, this is truly an opportunity for us to share the sense of adventure, accomplishment and camaraderie that we talk about, but that our families really don’t get to fully experience,” Blasi said. “So, it’s wonderful that we get to share that sense of duty, and camaraderie.”
Bristol Woods Park is located at 9800 160th Ave. (Highway MB) in the Village of Bristol.
More information about Boundless Adventures is available at https://boundlessadventures.net/wi-park. More details on the entire Kenosha County Parks system are at https://parks.kenoshacounty.org.