By Jim Owen
Army Veteran and Paradox Sports Volunteer
Memorial Day is a focused day of reflection as I remember the military men and women that died in service to our great nation. Do I think of them on other days, hell yes! Memorial Day provides a great opportunity to reflect and share with other communities about those that made the ultimate sacrifice after taking an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States. Paradox Sports is one of those communities.
Each year Paradox Sports has the annual 9/11 Yosemite Rock Climbing event. It brings together a few communities that don’t “normally” find themselves in each other’s circle. On this trip, the leadership of Yosemite National Park, Yosemite Search and Rescue, climbing guides from around the country, dirtbags, locals, civilians and veterans with disabilities spend 3+ days investing in each other. I started volunteering for this trip because a fellow veteran and bad ass friend, DJ Skelton, asked me to help out.
I will never forget the 2014 Yosemite trip. I went to serve the event in any way possible and quickly found that it was as much a healing event for me as much as it was for the attendees. I’m now approaching my 7th year volunteering for 9/11 Paradox Sports Yosemite Climbing trip. With each day my excitement grows because I have witnessed the mental healing that occurs across members from each of the individual communities as they focus on a mission (climbing) and become one community supporting that success of that mission. I have watched individual barriers drop, vulnerabilities get verbalized, “I can’t” turned into “I Did!”, and anxieties released and become peace.
On this Memorial Day I will remember my friends that are not with us and I will pray for my brothers and sisters in uniform, that I have met through Paradox Sports, that they remember the joy coming out of the event and turn away from the enemy within.