My name is Gabriel Vasquez. I'm a first generation Mexican-American from Austin, Texas, and a Marine combat veteran. I suffer from PTSD and residual injuries from my time overseas. I joined the Marines when I was nineteen, and can confidently say that beginning my career in the military was one of the best decisions I ever made in my life.
I instantly fell in love with serving in the Marines. It was there that I met my best friends, who would later become esteemed brothers. Many of us were lucky, and were deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan together. The bonds between us became shatterproof. We did everything together. We knew everything about each other. When you fight, laugh, and cry with someone for so long, you build an unbreakable connection. It’s a brotherhood like no other.
To honor the brothers that I know, and those that I don’t know, who are suffering life altering injuries such as lost limbs, traumatic brain injury, or PTSD, I have worked on my own for the past 9 years to raise $40,000 for the Semper Fi Fund and the Warrior Bonfire Program. These two non-profits are dedicated to helping injured veterans in any way they can. I raised this money by traveling over 23,000 miles on foot, by kayak or by bicycle. I’ve also spent time advocating for mental health and suicide awareness in the veteran community through several speaking engagements.
I'm the first known Mexican-American to Triple Crown. To earn this, I completed hikes on the Pacific Crest Trail, the Appalachian Trail, and the Continental Divide Trail. I've also hiked the Arizona Trail, the New England Trail, the Wonderland Trail, the Sandiego Trans County Trail, the TA in New Zealand, and three of the Camino de Santiago trails in Spain. I kayaked the entire Mississippi River, and more than half the Missouri River. I’ve also cycled half the perimeter of America. And this is just the beginning!
This year, I will hike across Europe, following the Via Francigena route. The hike begins just south of London and ends on the Southern Italian coast. The walk will take me through England, then across France and Switzerland, finally ending in Italy. The route is over 2,000 kilometers, which is 1,242 miles! I’m estimating it will take roughly 75 days to complete.
That’s not all I will be doing. While in Europe, I will also hike the Tour Da Mont Blanc, a 180 kilometer (112 mile) trail that traverses France, Italy, and Switzerland. This hike involves over 32,000 of elevation change. Directly after, I will hike the Alt Via One though the Dolomites in Italy, a 112 kilometer (70 miles) trail with an elevation gain of over 6 kilometers (21,000 feet).
After completing this trip, I will officially launch my Seven Summits Project, which involves climbing the highest peaks on each continent. The most renowned will be Everest (Asia), but I also plan to summit Aconcagua (South America), Vinson Massif (Antarctica), Puncak Jaya (Indonesia), Mt Elbrus (Europe), and Denali (North America). I will begin by summiting Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa in July.
Mount Kilimanjaro measures just under 6 kilometers, at 19,326 feet. It’s a singular experience to climb because it’s the highest free-standing mountain in the world. This lofty peak, unlike other mountains on the planet, stands alone and is not part of a mountain range. I will be taking the Lemosho Route, which takes up to nine days to summit. To end the year, and to celebrate all those long distances, I will return to America and step off on the Pacific Northwest Trail. This stunning, but challenging 1,200 mile trail begins on the Washington coast, and ends in Glacier National Park in Montana.
I will be raising funds again this year, but differently than in the past. Of course, I will be raising money for the Semper Fi Fund. The Semper Fi & America’s Fund cares for our nation’s critically wounded, ill, and injured service members, veterans, and military families. Supporting all branches of the U.S. Armed Forces, they provide one-on-one case management, connection, and lifetime support
With all of your help we previously raised just under $39,000 for veterans, and roughly $30,000 went to the SFF. This year, my goal is to raise $50,000 for veterans.
Importantly, this year, I will be adding an additional cause. I will also be raising money for my collaborator and good friend Tommy Corey. Tommy is an LGBTQ+ Mexican American photographer and videographer who dedicates his time and creativity to advocate for inclusivity and diversity in the outdoors. He's completed multiple projects, including producing a thirteen episode series on people in the outdoors, highlighting diversity.
I was lucky to have Tommy choose to produce a short film about me, my passion for adventure, and my mission to raise funds and advocate for veteran’s mental and physical health. In the film, I speak of veterans, suicide and about how the outdoors saved my life. It’s important to note here that between 2008-2015, there were 6,000 or more veteran suicides per year and it is estimated that veteran suicides comprise nearly a quarter of suicide deaths in the US. Among
these cold statistics are beloved brothers who served shoulder to shoulder with me.
Tommy gave me a clear platform to speak frankly about this crucial but difficult topic, and to normalize the language around veteran suicide. It is only through speaking the truth that we can end the stigma around mental health, and provide the support needed to end this tragic trend.
Tommy is currently working on a new project, and I’d like to lend a hand by raising money to help him complete it. He is creating a coffee table book titled All Humans Outside. It will feature both portraits and short stories of one hundred different humans from all realms of the outdoor experience, including those involved in sports, recreation, and those who make their careers outside.
To incentivize donations while I walk for the next four months, I will host a gear giveaway once a month, starting in April. To enter each giveaway, simply visit my page and donate to Semper Fi Fund or make a contribution to All Humans Outside( https://gofund.me/cbaabce2 ) and send a screen shot by DMimg me on instagram or emailing your screen shot to firstname.lastname@example.org. Every $10.00 donation equals one entry in the gear giveaway of that month.
The prizes include:
April: Gregory Backpack, 1 Kula cloth
May: Gossamer trekking poles, 1 Kula cloth
June: Jolly Gear sun shirt, LightAF fanny pack, 1 Kula cloth
July: Jet Boil, Nemo sleeping pad, 1 Kula cloth
Gossamer Gear, Gregory Backpacks, Jolly Gear and Kula Cloth have generously donated to my cause and I humbly ask you to follow and like them on Instagram.
Thank you in advance for your generosity,