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The Honor Hike

Commissioner Brewer with Col. Miniard at the Grand Cayon with the KSP Flag

KSP Fallen Heros

Commissioner Brewer Letter Head
September 16, 2014
Lieutenant Colonel Jack Miniard and I recently returned from our rim-to-rim trek of the Grand Canyon. You may recall that we began planning for this adventure several months ago in an effort to raise funds and support for the Trooper Project. Amazingly, our efforts raised over $15,000 to kick off this fundraising event. Carrying the names and photographs of each of our agency's fallen officers, we embarked from the North Rim during the early morning hours of August 22, 2014, after a brief video tribute to our fallen brethren.
To say that the 18-mile hike that day to Phantom Ranch was challenging is an understatement. Facing a thirty degree grade change during the first three miles of our descent was brutal. The beginning temperature was a crisp 52º but soared to more than 105º late in the day as we made our way through Phantom Canyon, better known to hikers as 'the box.' Knees and hips took a beating and our hands were raw from the much needed support provided by the hiking poles. Despite the challenges, our training paid off as we soaked in some of the most incredible vistas on the planet.
We reached Phantom Ranch after 12 hours of hiking, spending the next day exploring some of the local trails including a visit to the Colorado River and a swim in Bright Angel Creek which unfolded behind our cabin. We embarked the next morning and began our ascent up the Bright Angel Trail. It is approximately 9 1/2 miles in duration, increasing more than 4100 feet in elevation before completion. More than ten hours later we reached the trailhead of Bright Angel on the South Rim. Tired, but exuberant, we exchanged 'high fives' as tourists gathered aound us. As we unfurled the KSP flag and revealed the photos of our fallen heroes, several individuals asked us about our efforts and a few later made donations to the Trooper Project.
A foursome from Texas was gracious enough to take our photograph utilizing our cameras. After learning more about our 30 mile trek, one lady took our photo stating, "What those guys just did was amazing. I'll never be able to do that but I want a picture of someone who did!" It was indeed a proud moment as we enjoyed our fifteen minutes of fame. However, we knew that the true hero status belonged to those troopers and officers who had given their life in the line of duty, dying for something they believed in with all their heart and soul.
The last few lines in my journal read: "We shoot the last GoPro video of the flag and photos of our fallen comrades. We silently take a moment to stare at the great abyss that we have just crossed, reflecting on our sacrifice…and theirs. The day…and the moment…truly belong to them."
Commissioner Brewer Letter Head
June 2014
I first visited the Grand Canyon when I was about eight years old. Although our journey that summer to California was eerily similar to a Griswold family vacation, it provided much laughter and memories in the years that followed. Of all the sights that trip generated, none is more vivid in my mind than my first glimpse at the Grand Canyon from the South Rim. Even as a little boy, this world wonder left me spellbound and amazed. Although our trip was short because we had to get back on the road, (note Griswold likeness!) I remember gazing at the trails and river below through one of those telescopes that cost you a hard earned quarter. Climbing into my Dad's old Cadillac, I daydreamed about what it was like at the bottom of this incredible spectacle.
I have visited the Grand Canyon several times since that day and its beauty and grandeur continues to be magical. Created by millions of years of erosion, this mystical work of nature contains thirteen different ecosystems below the rim level. As the crow flies, it is over a mile down before reaching the Colorado River, equating to many miles when hiking the main trails. Of the five million people who visit the Grand Canyon each year, less than three percent ever venture below the lookouts on the rim.
Several months ago, Lieutenant Colonel Jack Miniard and I began formalizing a plan to hike the Grand Canyon from rim to rim. Fascinated by the concept, we began a training regiment to check this childhood dream off of our bucket list. We decided early on that we would 'hike for a cause.' A few weeks ago we decided that our journey would be dedicated to those individuals in our agency that had given their life in the line of duty. Both of us will be carrying the photos and names of each trooper/officer who died defending the citizens of the Commonwealth when we embark in late August.
As you are aware, we are currently involved in a major fundraising effort for a 7 1/2 foot bronze sculpture of a trooper that will occupy a prominent place in our new academy courtyard. Handcrafted by world renowned sculptor Benjamin Victor, it will represent all who have fallen in the line of duty as well as those who have faithfully served under the Kentucky State Police flag since our inception. It will be a stunning piece of art that will represent the sacrifice, courage, and integrity that our agency was founded upon. The total cost of this project will be funded through private donations and fundraisers without the benefit of tax dollars. This is where I need your help and support.
Although the entire cost of the "Honor Hike" trip will be borne by us, we are asking supporters of our agency to donate one dollar for our fundraising efforts to help pay for this bronze sculpture. The entire trip will encompass nearly twenty-five miles of rugged terrain before completion. I suppose our trip will be representative of many things that we hold sacred in our agency psyche: preparation, struggle, perseverance, determination, victory and sacrifice.
The Kentucky State Police has been very blessed with strong community support since our inception in 1948. Would you help make this project a reality by taking the time to donate a dollar? Would you tell three of your friends about our efforts? Progress regarding our trip will be updated on our website and agency Facebook page. Checks can be made payable "The Trooper Project" and sent to:
919 Versailles Road
Frankfort, Kentucky. 40014
All contributions are tax deductible and donations can also be made through PayPal. For more information about the bronze sculpture project and the "Honor Hike" endeavor, click on the attached YouTube video link. Thanks in advance for your ongoing support of the men and women who make up the Kentucky State Police.