LOS ANGELES – When Ben Lunak, a U.S. Marine amputee and member of Team Hard Target, realized he could not finish hiking up Mount Kilimanjaro this past May due to his war injury, his teammate and NFL great Tedy Bruschi volunteered to carry Lunak’s prosthetic leg to the top. That’s what GMC calls a “Never Say Never” attitude.
GMC celebrated Bruschi and Lunak’s Never Say Never attitude last night at the brand’s second annual sponsorship of ESPN’s ESPY Awards at the Nokia Theater in Los Angeles, as part of its broader recognition of Wounded Warrior Project™ and Team Hard Target.
The team’s four injured U.S. service members and three NFL greats trekked to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro to launch Wounded Warrior Project’s Believe in heroes™ campaign, which aims to educate the public on the challenges facing the new generation of wounded American heroes. As part of GMC’s recognition of the effort, it will donate $5,000 to the non-profit, non-partisan cause.
“Wounded Warrior Project and Team Hard Target perfectly demonstrate the ‘Never Say Never’ attitude that drives our nation’s armed forces personnel and NFL greats,” said John Schwegman, U.S. vice president of GMC Marketing. “It’s the same attitude we at GMC bring to work every day to design, build and sell the professional grade vehicles we know our customers want and value.”
All seven members from the climb were on the red carpet. Team Hard Target includes NFL great Tedy Bruschi, now an ESPN analyst, former Tennessee Titans coach Jeff Fisher and former Philadelphia Eagles and St. Louis Rams player Chad Lewis, along with wounded warriors Bryan Wagner of Exeter, Calif., Ben Lunak of Grand Forks, N.D., Michael Wilson of Annapolis, Md., and Nancy Schiliro of Hartsdale, N.Y.
Team Hard Target’s endeavor had more than a few Never Say Never moments. Before the team even arrived in Africa it went through intense training and physical conditioning in Florida, a 26-mile hike in the high desert of New Mexico, and mountain climbing training in Colorado. The subsequent 19,340-foot climb up Mount Kilimanjaro tested the team’s mettle as it traversed steep ridges through rain forest, scrambled up rocky slopes, and ascended glacier terrain after midnight.
“The climb was symbolic of the journey each wounded warrior takes when they leave the battlefield injured and begin to reintegrate into society,” said Jonathan Sullivan, executive vice president of development, Wounded Warrior Project. “Each of the warriors put their bodies on the line so that the team could both accomplish an amazing feat and continue to raise awareness of the struggles and sacrifice of this generation of wounded warriors.”
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About Wounded Warrior Project
The mission of the Wounded Warrior Project™ (WWP) is to honor and empower wounded warriors. WWP s purpose is to raise awareness and to enlist the public’s aid for the needs of injured service members, to help injured servicemen and women aid and assist each other, and to provide unique, direct programs and services to meet their needs. WWP is a national, nonpartisan organization headquartered in Jacksonville, Fla. To get involved and learn more, visit woundedwarriorproject.org.
Joe LaMuraglia 313-701-9711
Becky Melvin 904-742-5867