WHY 22 JUMPS
Our founder, Tristan Wimmer, knows firsthand how traumatic brain injuries can tear families apart. In November 2015, after suffering for nearly a decade with a massive, traumatic brain injury (TBI) sustained in Iraq, his brother Kiernan took his own life.
Tristan and his family helplessly watched as Kiernan’s injury deteriorated his quality of life, causing him to become emotional, mercurial, and violent. No amount of intervening, pleading, or outward expressions of love seemed to help. Kiernan refused to admit he had a problem and instead covered up vulnerability with bravado, impulsivity, and alcohol.
But to those closest to him, it was obvious he was slowly coming unglued.
Unfortunately, Kiernan’s TBI and subsequent suicide is just one story in thousands of veteran suicide stories over the past 20 years. According to a 2012 Department of Veterans Affairs report, an estimated 22 veterans take their own lives each day. While we may never know the varied and complex reasons an individual veteran decides to take his or her own life, there is a large and ever-growing body of evidence supporting a link between TBI and suicidality.
The knowledge of that link, as well as the loss of Kiernan, have inspired a call to action within us. We endeavor to change the narrative of veteran suicides and fundraise for organizations doing the difficult work of figuring out the physiology of TBIs, developing testing and therapeutics for TBIs, and administering effective solutions available today.
To this end, we do 22 BASE jumps in a day — the same number of veterans who take their own lives each day — to honor those veterans who leave us early. Safely piloting a BASE parachute 22 times in a day is also no easy feat, especially when that includes managing the fatigue of getting back up to the exit point under your own power. The physical effort and skill needed to accomplish this fundraising event are why we feel it’s an appropriate way to honor those veterans who leave us early each day and bring attention to their struggles.
In order to change the narrative of traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) and veteran suicides, we fundraise to support both the development of testing and therapeutics for TBIs and the application of ancient plant medicines to help relieve suffering today. Every little bit helps us in this mission.