The Team Jesse Foundation
Mission: To provide education and support for families of fallen soldiers in honor of SSG Jesse Williams


Mission: To provide education and support to families of fallen soldiers in honor of SSG Jesse Williams

Survivors Summit 2013 Empowers Survivors


Through the generosity of our donors, Team Jesse funded five of twelve surviving wives, fiancés and girlfriends who embarked upon a 4-day retreat in Granby, Colorado on August 4th- 7th, 2013. The retreat, called Survivor Summit 2013, focused on empowering the survivors to carry on the legacy of their loved ones as they experienced the healing power of the mountains. Each participant suffered the loss of her husband, fiancé or boyfriend who served or was serving in the military. The Travis Manion Foundation worked in partnership with No Barriers USA to organize, fund and facilitate the retreat.

No Barriers USA developed a mountaineering program designed to empower survivors to overcome barriers and reclaim their lives. In this program, mountains serve as both a metaphor and training ground for survivors as they stretch goals, build teams, innovate through adversity and step up to lead and help others. The Survivors Summit program was designed to help survivors restructure how they approach their past and future.

The women arrived on the first evening and attended a welcome dinner. Erik Weihenmayer, the only blind mountain climber to ever reach the peak of Mount Everest, was the guest speaker at the event. At age 33, Weihenmayer became one of the only mountaineers to have climbed all Seven Summits- the highest peaks on each of the seven continents. Weihenmayer introduced the No Barriers Mindset to the group and spoke of his own personal experiences in overcoming life changing tragedies. The No Barriers Mindset is “the understanding that one can live a life rich in fulfillment and impact despite the barriers one faces in the process”.

The following day the women put the No Barrier Mindset to the test. The team spend the day climbing to the top of Cascade Peak at 12,300 ft. The team was faced with many challenges throughout the day including hail and lightening, which added to the challenge and adversity to overcome. After a decent with a beautiful view, the team spent time learning how to embrace living in the moment. The discussion focused on letting the past influence the present and guide the future.

The team spent the next day at St. Mary’s Glacier learning ice climbing techniques and how to use technical ice climbing equipment. The facilitators then challenged the group with team building activities. One activity required a team member to lead other women, who were blindfolded or mute, safely around the glacier.

On the final day of the retreat, the group had a final debrief on lessons learned and developed an ethos to challenge themselves with life’s daily challenges based on the situations that many of these women are faced with after their loss. Survivor Summit 2013 provided an important opportunity for learning, healing, and building strength and companionship for the participants.