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'It takes a bit of guts': Saving veterans one jump at a time

Veteran service members are base jumping at Camelback Mountain to bring awareness to veteran suicides at the fourth annual 22 Jumps event.

PHOENIX — An important event was held Saturday that involved hiking, a parachute and jumping off a mountain. 

"It takes a bit of guts I think," said Tony Wimmer.

Wimmer is talking about the fourth annual 22 Jumps, an event that helps raise funds and awareness for a problem that plagues our nation.

"It's estimated 22 veterans a day commit suicide," she said. "Mostly from TBI or Traumatic Brain Injuries and PTSD."

Wimmer said the problem affects a large number of families, including hers. She said in 2015 she lost one of her sons who was in the Marines. Her family then created the veteran-run nonprofit 22 Jumps to help raise funds and research for those who suffer from TBI and other mental health issues.

"It has been tremendous and it's gone a long way to heal our family," she said. "There's so many families who suffer from this, and I want them to know they're not the only ones. We suffer with them, we understand, we embrace our grief together."

On Saturday a group climbed Camelback multiple times and jumped off once they reached the top. Some jumped 22 times to honor the veterans who'd taken their own lives. Others participated because they felt strongly about the cause. 

"We have a whole array of jumpers jumping for fun," Wimmer said. "For the comradery, just being part of the event."

And as each took their fight to new heights, Wimmer said it's important people celebrate and honor the lives lost, the lives, they say, they'll never forget.

"The more awareness we can bring," she said. "The more light we can shed on it, the further we can go into our research."

The goal for Saturday's event was to raise $22,000. To date, the nonprofit has raised more than $180,000. If you'd like more information or to donate, you can go here.

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