GCI Suicide Prevention Fund helps Gold Star Peak, Inc. provide services to more families, veterans than ever before
ANCHORAGE, Alaska – Despite challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, Gold Star Peak, Inc., a GCI Suicide Prevention Fund grant recipient, just wrapped up their most impactful year yet. In 2021, Gold Star Peak served 574 active-duty service members, veterans, and Gold Star Families on 24 adventures in Chugach State Park.
A Gold Star Family is the immediate family of a fallen service member who died while in service to our country, including those who have died from suicide. Gold Star Peak, Inc. works to connect those families and veterans with nature. The group helps honor and remember the fallen and never forgets the sacrifices those families have endured. They also promote a day of self-care to the community’s active-duty service members, Gold Star Families, and veterans.
Gold Star Peak, Inc. President and Founder Kirk Alkire shared some of the most memorable and impactful moments from the past year. One that came to mind was when he helped guide a large group of survivors up Gold Star Peak, near Eklutna Lake just north of Anchorage.
“Two mothers on the climb had both lost their active-duty military sons to suicide. One asked our permission to yell her son’s name as loud as she could at various spots along the trail to the summit. Of course, we said yes,” said Alkire. “We all had chills come over us as we stood back and watched this mother emotionally cry out her son’s name. Once we reached the summit, she yelled his name one final time. Then she broke down and the second mother grabbed her and hugged her while the two cried out loud. Their cries carried across the summit leaving us all speechless. Most of us, being combat veterans ourselves, broke down as well.”
“In doing this, it not only greatly helped her reach the summit by honoring her son in her own special way, but it also impacted our team leaders, veterans in a way that gave us all incredible amounts of hope and motivation to continue serving those grieving from the loss of a loved one to suicide.”
Alkire also shared a story about a grandmother who brought her adult granddaughter to adventure along with her. The grandmother’s son, who was the granddaughter’s father, died in combat.
“It was an amazing experience bringing two generations of grief together in this special place to honor and remember their hero,” Alkire said. “For us to hear and witness the grieving grandmother speak about her son and how important it was for her to lead her granddaughter to the summit in his honor was an act that could never be replicated anywhere else.”
Each year, GCI donates money to nonprofits in Alaska that put in tireless work to prevent suicides in their communities. GCI’s giving is targeted to organizations that serve small, rural communities in Alaska, as well as larger programs that reach Alaskans in bigger cities. In 2021, GCI awarded grants ranging from $2,000 to $20,000 to 14 organizations.
“With all the, grief, confusion, frustration and negative statistics that circulate around the topic of suicide, it’s easy to feel hopeless. But stories like these remind us that healing is possible,” said GCI Chief Communications Officer Heather Handyside. “We established the GCI Suicide Prevention Grant program to support organizations that work to prevent suicide in Alaska and are so grateful for the work that Gold Star Peak is doing to honor service members and support survivors with compassion and grace.”
Since the fund’s first year, GCI has given more than $500,000 to local organizations for suicide prevention efforts.
GCI is one of Alaska’s leaders in corporate philanthropy, donating approximately $2 million each year in cash, products, and connectivity to organizations across the state. GCI is committed to giving back to the communities it serves and provides employees with 16 hours of paid leave to volunteer with local organizations. In 2021, more than 460 GCI employees volunteered over 4,400 hours with local non-profit organizations across the state.
For more information about the GCI Gives program, visit http://www.gci.com/why-gci/gcigives.
Headquartered in Alaska, GCI provides data, mobile, video, voice and managed services to consumer, business, government, and carrier customers throughout Alaska, serving more than 200 communities. The company has invested more than $3 billion in its Alaska network and facilities over the past 40 years and recently launched true standards-based 5G NR service in Anchorage, now the nation’s northernmost 5G service area. Learn more about GCI at www.gci.com. GCI is a wholly owned subsidiary of Liberty Broadband Corporation (Nasdaq: LBRDA, LBRDK, LBRDP). Learn more about Liberty Broadband at http://www.libertybroadband.com.