The “Silkies Hike” or 22, with 22, for the 22 as it was first known, started as a single event on July 25, 2015, in San Diego, CA. It skyrocketed to over 40 events nationwide in 3 months time, each coordinated by local veterans. Captain Donny O’Malley, USMC (Ret), and Sergeant Ryan Loya, USMC, co-founded the hike through their non-profit, Irreverent Warriors, with the idea that camaraderie and humor can save a life. In 2014, Donny and Ryan each lost a close friend to suicide. While a patient in Wounded Warrior Battalion West located in San Diego, CA, Donny befriended LCpl Artem Lazukin, who took his own life on March 29, 2015. Six months prior, Sgt. Jeremy Sears committed suicide on October 6, 2014. Sears was first to respond when an IED blast threw Ryan 20 feet into a nearby river.
As a result, Donny and Ryan made a pact to reduce the epidemic of veteran suicide, and so started the Silkies Hike: 22 with 22 for the 22