Memorial Day weekend is a time to remember the soldiers who have given their lives to protect our nation, but why stop there? Various programs focus on supporting our veterans year round. The Wounded Warrior Project dedicates itself to helping soldiers of America’s Armed Forces that have been wounded in war by raising awareness, providing aid and creating programs for returned soldiers.
In the second week of September, Bay Area natives, Brian Santilena and Jimmy Redo will climb the shear Northwest Face of Half Dome. The 2,000 foot granite wall sits 4700 feet above the Valley floor. First climbed by Royal Robbins, Mike Sherrick, and Jerry Gallwas in 1957, the route is considered a classic in the world and remains an imposing challenge. The team is taking donations to raise money and awareness for the Wounded Warrior Project through their climb. As of August 1st, the pair have raised over $3,000 for the WWP.
Brian Santilena, 44, and Jimmy Redo, 46, grew up together in Alameda and became close friends. They were excited about the opportunity to raise awareness about The Wounded Warrior Project and to climb an amazing granite face in the process.
“Jim is quite experienced and did the route 20 years ago,” said Brian. The team plans to spend a few nights on the wall, carrying haulbags and bivy gear with them on their ascent. “Having fun, realizing a dream and helping people along the way is what this adventure is all about."
The pair attempted the climb last year but had to bail when Brian hurt his left arm. "I'm trying to train and strengthen around it and I'd say I'm back to 90%." Brian has fought to recover from the injury and be more fit to attempt the climb this year. "I'm working on both strength and cardio. I'm climbing 2-3 times a week at Ironworks plus walking the Oakland hills with a 40lb. pack on. I'm going to Mt. Diablo, Pinnacles, Yosemite and I'm heading to Boulder CO in 2 weeks for a dry run gear-practice"
Donating as little as 3 cents per foot will help the Wounded Warrior Project immensely. "I've never done anything like this before," Brian said. "But if some of these injured heroes wounded over there are pushing themselves to merely walk across the room, scared or not I sure as hell can't see any reason why I can't make it up that mountain." "The climb is a personal challenge and adventure plus a chance to raise a few bucks for a great cause," said Brian. "I have a brother that was a Marine and is currently in the Army National Guard and other family members that were active in WW2, Vietnam, Iraq 1 & 2 and Afghanistan. I'm very fortunate to have dodged that bullet but I have a ton of gratitude to them and other Vets." Check out Brian's page about ways to donate.
For a more direct way to donate, check out their Go Fund Me Page