September 22, 2015 / By Brian Smith
A Mountain Climbed, Respect Gained
Following in the footsteps of the 2014 Warriors to Summits team, Sam Baron, a 14-year-old Californian, this summer completed a summit of Mount Whitney, the highest point in the contiguous United States.
The hike was not only a way for Sam to honor that year’s team of disabled veterans but to raise money to help No Barriers fund similar expeditions for disabled veterans. Sam and father, David, summited the peak – at 14,505 feet — after about 9 hours of hiking. In total, the duo hiked about 23 miles up more than 6,500 feet of elevation in a little over 16 hours.
While the Warriors’ team took a different, longer route last summer, Sam said his route gave him a new appreciation for that team’s dedication, especially considering the physical and mental disabilities they sustained during their service.
“I said to my dad somewhere along the line that this is hard, but imagine how it was for those guys,” Sam said. “So I gained so much respect for No Barriers Warriors as an outcome of this hike.”
The trip also served as a catalyst to better connect Sam and his dad.
Said David, “For me, it was really about doing this together and the experience of making it to the top together – that was the most amazing part. The bonding experience of doing something like this is a big deal. He pushed me and I don’t think I would have made it up nearly as quickly as I did with him pushing me up.”
Sam latched on to No Barriers after David, who works for Hulu, discovered an advertisement for Warriors to Summits. That No Barriers relies on outdoor experiences heavily in its programing was also a plus for Sam, who David described as a “mountain goat.”
“I was looking to help organizations that help veterans because I don’t think that the way they are treated right now is correct, especially the ones who come home with mental or physical disabilities,” Sam said.
His hike up Mount Whitney raised more than $4,000 for No Barriers. Sam also asked that attendees to his Bar Mitzvah last November make a donation to No Barriers in lieu of a gift.
“Sam is a great example of how people around the country can support No Barriers in their communities and through their personal passions,” said Rob Panos, No Barriers’ Community Development Coordinator. “We’re so grateful to have people like him who will step up and make a difference for the people we serve.”
Sam said he hopes to remain involved with No Barriers, especially as he pursues opportunities in outdoor leadership.
“I’ve watched Sam develop a love for the outdoors his whole life and I think climbing the highest peak in the U.S. one is a great milestone. I see him doing a lot more of this both with me and without me in the coming years,” David said.