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Three Trekkers will honor Fallen Maine Soldiers as Part of The Summit Project at this Year’s Trek Across Maine

Three-day Trek takes place this Father’s Day weekend

(May 29, 2014)—

On Father’s Day weekend, the American Lung Association of the Northeast will celebrate the 30th annual Trek Across Maine, with more than 2,000 cyclists departing from Sunday River Ski Resort in Newry and finishing at Steamboat Landing Park in Belfast. The event is the largest fundraiser for the nonprofit organization nationwide.  In 2014, the Lung Association hopes to raise $2 million to support its mission to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease at the Trek Across Maine.

While many of the 2,000 cyclists who participate in the ride do so because they have a family member or friend who either suffers from or was lost to lung disease,  others ride for the sheer joy of participating in this one-of-a-kind event.  This year, three trekkers have chosen to bring even more meaning to the event by remembering fellow Mainers who have died in service to their country since September 11, 2011 through The Summit Project.  Andy Charles , Garrett Corbin  and Tony Barrett will be carrying memorial stones with them on this year’s ride that have been donated to The Summit Project by families who lost their loved ones. The Summit Project has tasked itself with collecting stones from the family and friends of every fallen Maine hero.

“This year in addition to riding in memory of my father, Bernie, I’ll be carrying a stone with me to honor Army Sgt. Joshua Kirk who was from my hometown of South Portland,” explains Andy Charles. “Sgt. Kirk was killed in Afghanistan in 2009.  He met his future wife at SMCC in South Portland before joining the army.  While preparing for the ride I’ve been in touch with her and have learned about him and their daughter.  She was born just 2 years before he died, and I hope that honoring her dad in this way will be meaningful to her as she grows up.  This effort is part of The Summit Project which is a living memorial to fallen Maine heroes.  Interested volunteers can borrow the stones and take them on a hike or other outdoor trip. I know that the added weight of the stone will be nothing compared to the price he paid and the loss his family has endured.”

Garrett Corbin of Hallowell who will be participating in his eighth Trek Across Maine this year will be carrying a stone in memory of Army Staff Sgt. Brandon M. Silk.  SSGT Silk, who was from Orono, was born in 1985 and died in Afghanistan in 2010 from injuries he suffered during a hard helicopter landing. He was a Black Hawk crew chief, a member of the U.S. Army’s 101st Airborne Division and was on his fourth tour of duty since 2003. Corbin explains that he chose to ride in honor of SSGT Silk because he felt a strong connection to him based on their proximity in age and hometown – Corbin had already been following SSGT Silk’s story in the news over the past few years and the two share a love of Green Lake near Ellsworth.  In addition to honoring SSGT Silk, Corbin also will be riding in memory of his own father, Dr. Roy Corbin of Bangor who recently lost his fight with pancreatic cancer, and to support a close family friend who now suffers from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease despite never having smoked.

“While I have been a trekker since the early 1990’s, this year’s Trek carries more meaning for me than ever before,” says Corbin.  “My dad used to meet me at the finish line to celebrate the Father’s Day holiday and the incredible bike trip.  This year he’ll be on my mind as I ride the 180 miles across Maine.  So will my friends’ dad Frank Callanan who is suffering from COPD and Staff Sgt. Silk, who lost his life right after Father’s Day in 2010.”

Tony Barrett of Harpswell who has been a volunteer at the Trek in the past will be riding for the first time this year.  He has chosen to carry a stone in honor of Army Master Sgt. Robert M. Horrigan who was born in Limestone Maine and was killed June 17 2005 right before Father’s Day, while conducting combat operations in Qaim, Iraq.   Barrett says he chose to ride in memory of Army Master Sgt. Horrigian in part because he was an older casualty who was on his last mission in Iraq before his retirement from the Army.

“As someone a little older than Army Master Sgt. Horrigan would be today, I was touched by his story and his many years of dedicated service,” said Tony Barrett.  “The memorial stone that I will be carrying was selected by his Mom from a family orchard in Belfast.  I will be bringing the stone back to Belfast and hope that I can visit that family orchard in which Army Master Sgt. Horrigan played as a kid on Sunday.”

Along with the many family members and friends who will be at the finish line in Belfast to cheer on and greet those who cycled to support the Lung Association’s mission will be the founder of The Summit Project-– Major Dave Cote an active-duty Marine Corps officer, an Iraq war veteran and a proud native Mainer.  Major Cote will be at the finish line to greet Charles, Corbin and Barrett and accept the memorial stones they carried with them on the ride. Also at the finish line will be Army Sgt. Joshua Kirk’s widow, Ms. Megan Gavin-Kirk, and their daughter, Kensington.

The mission of The Summit Project is to honor our state’s newest war casualties and the faithful spirit of all Mainers.  The Summit Project is a 501c3 organization. Those interested in learning more should visit http://mainememorial.org/ or contact Major Cote at mail@mainememorial.org

To learn more about the Trek across Maine, to register, or to make a tax-deductible donation, please visit Trekmaine30.org.  You may also visit the website to learn more about the American Lung Association of the Northeast’s other bike treks in Cape Cod and Portsmouth, New Hampshire.



  1. From Garrett Corbin — Some of my fondest childhood memories were forged on summer weekends at the camp we used to rent on Green Lake. While my father pulled my younger brother, Brandon, and I on inner tubes behind his boat, another kid around our age, also named Brandon, was out enjoying the lake too.

    My dad was on my mind throughout my 9th Trek Across Maine this year, as he used to meet me at the finish line on Father’s Day. Earlier this year, dad lost his fight against pancreatic cancer at the age of 63, and it was a phenomenally tough blow to the many people whose lives he touched. A common refrain amongst friends and family was that he was far too young.

    Also in my thoughts, with nearly each pedal stroke, was my neighbor Brandon whom I had never had the chance to meet. SSGT Brandon Silk was, incredibly courageously, fighting on behalf of all of us, on the other side of the planet from Green Lake, when his chopper went down. That was four years ago, when SSGT Silk was only 25.

    As is often the case with arduous physical expeditions, the Trek tends to test participants’ mental stamina more than their physical strength. Physically, this year’s ride was more painful for me than past treks, perhaps simply because I’m getting older, perhaps due to the first day being driving cold rain, but either way my knees and ankles were really hurting by the final day. The fact I was enduring physical pain while taking part in an activity I love, cycling, became a trivial matter when put in perspective against the backdrop of the pain our service members encounter on a day-to-day basis. In the ordinary course of their jobs, they put up with so, so much more than we typically do stateside. I’m sure a soldier who has been carrying a pack and other gear would not find the prospect of carrying a stone that weighs a few pounds to be the least bit daunting.

    Mentally, the ride was profound this year, on a whole order of magnitude greater than in the past. The tribulations imposed by lung disease had always weighed on me before, because the Trek is a fundraiser for the American Lung Association. Added to that was the deeply meaningful experience of simultaneously participating in The Summit Project. The knowledge I was carrying SSGT Silk’s stone far outweighed the stone’s physical weight. The stone is from a place the Silks and I consider home, and it represents a soldier and son who made the type of difference in the world I can only aspire to achieve. I found myself asking why I was fortunate enough to be riding my bike on a beautiful day when someone who went to the same elementary school as me and eventually decided to act more bravely than I can even contemplate, and gave so much more of himself than I (a relatively altruistic person) ever have, was not so fortunate.

    As I’ve discovered before, and have sadly been viscerally reminded of this year, we will never comprehend why so many of humankinds’ best have their time here cut so short. But if we can appreciate that they were able to follow their calling in life and if we can continue to carry the torch for their cause, we can know that they would be both proud and grateful.
    To Mark and Lynn, please know that I will never forget SSGT Brandon Silk’s sacrifice, I will be reminded of it whenever I see a mouse, and anytime I drink a Guinness it will be in his honor. I cannot thank you enough for giving the world someone who gave so much back to it.

    Very Sincerely,
    Garrett Corbin

  2. Tony Barrett wrote — Army Master Sgt. Robert M. Horrigan
    40, of Austin, Texas; assigned to Headquarters, U.S. Army Special Operations Command, Fort Bragg, N.C.; killed June 17 while conducting combat operations in Qaim, Iraq. Robert was born in Limestone, Maine.

    I wanted to remember Bob (Army Master Sgt. Robert M. Horrigan) because he is an older casualty (would be 50 years old if still alive today) and I am older. He died on June 17 (Father’s Day weekend in 2005) on his last mission in Iraq before his retirement from the Army. The memorial stone that I carried was selected by his Mom from a family orchard in Belfast. I brought the stone back to Belfast on Sunday as part of 2014 Trek Across Maine.
    A photo and short description was mounted on the back of my bicycle. I am not a fast rider and while being passed by many of the 2,600 bicyclists (or ‘trekkers’ as they are called), they could see the photo. Also, when my bike was parked or at rest stops, people would stop and look at the photo.
    I would guess that about 50 people asked
    me about the photo which provided me
    an opportunity to tell Bob’s story – that he
    was a father killed on Father’s Day
    weekend – that he was on his last mission
    & about to retire – and that the stone being carried with his inscription was from an orchard in Belfast. Many of those people with whom I spoke were touched by the story and thanked me for carrying the stone. Two bicyclists asked if they could carry the stone in their back jersey pocket (they didn’t have a rack or bag) –

    to which I agreed. However, they only made this request after long, uphill climbs (so they could have the downhill with the stone ).
    American Lung
    staffer, Katie
    O’Neill, sought
    me out at
    Colby College
    and asked for
    her photo to be
    taken with the
    stone. Katie
    had written a
    press release
    about the
    Summit Project
    and Maine
    Memorial for
    fallen soldiers,
    in which Bob’s
    name was
    She also
    inserted into
    the evening
    mention of the
    Summit Project and the names of the three soldiers being remembered.
    Carrying the stone certainly made me more aware of the sacrifice by young men & women from Maine. Several people that I talked to were vets themselves, were still working in the military or had

    children with the Maine 133rd. The current circumstances in Iraq make Bob’s loss even more poignant.
    At the finish line, there was a signature board for all riders to sign their names to celebrate the 30th Anniversary of the Trek. Bob’s name is on the top center of the board.
    Tony Barrett Harpswell, ME June 17, 2014


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