Their mission is to “improve the care and protection of heroes through individual support, community empowerment and systemic change.”
The Heroes Project is an organization dedicated to raising funds to help wounded vets find renewed purpose and belief in themselves by climbing the world’s tallest peaks. Founded by Tim Wayne Medvetz in the fall of 2009, the goal is to give injured vets a new lease on life, to show them that there is still nothing they can’t do, literally no mountain they can’t climb.
The foundation is predicated on the idea that we can make a difference and change the lives of our wounded veterans, soldiers and their families one soldier, one veteran, one family at a time.
After a nearly fatal motorcycle accident in September, 2001, that left him partially paralyzed and fighting for his life, Medvetz was left questioning the meaning of his life. He had 2 metal plates and 20 screws holding his skull together, his shattered spine was repaired with a titanium cage, numerous plates and screws were required to repair his knees, and he almost lost a foot. His doctors didn’t think he would ever walk again.
Medvetz however, had other plans. After struggling for six months through excruciating pain he regained the use of his legs, and one year after his accident he gave up his apartment in Los Angeles, California, and booked a one way ticket to Nepal. He had vowed four years before his accident that someday he would climb Mt. Everest, and no amount of pain or uncertainty was going to keep him from his dream. Living amongst the local Sherpas in the foothills of the Himalayas Medvetz began “slowly and insistently” to put his life and his body back together.
It took Medvetz 4 years, but in 2006 he flew back to California, sold everything he owned, raised some funds through sponsorships, and made his first attempt to reach the summit of Mt. Everest. Unfortunately, due to low oxygen levels in his tank Medvetz was forced to turn back just 300 feet from the summit. Although bitterly disappointed he learned a valuable lesson that day, “the summit is only halfway and that getting to the summit [is] optional, but getting down [is] mandatory.” The following year, on the morning of May, 21, 2007, with a shattered right hand from a fall the previous day, Medvetz finally reached the Top of the World.
It was after returning home to Los Angeles following his success at Mt. Everest that Medvetz once again found himself facing a crossroads. He knew he wanted to keep climbing, but he felt the need to find a reason other than his own personal gratification, to continue in this journey. Everest had been about his own personal recovery, and he had proved that nothing could stand in his way, but he needed a purpose to keep going as well.
It was on Veterans Day of that year when a news broadcast about disabled and disfigured vets returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan gave him the inspiration he had been looking for. The stories of these wounded warriors struck close to home for Medvetz, and he realized he had something powerful to offer these brave soldiers. He could give them the chance to put their lives back together in the same way he did, through the challenges of climbing. His goal would be to take a wounded soldier with him on his next climb. He knew that “if he could renew his faith in himself on the summit of a mountain, he could help others do so as well.”
In the summer of 2009 he embarked on two major expeditions. He climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro in Africa with and injured vet named Neil Duncan, and Mt. Elbrus in Russia with another injured vet named Keith Deutsch. After the success of both of those expeditions there was no turning back, and The Heroes Project was born.