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Summit for Danny Hikers Climbing for the Cause Fuel Fight against Drug Abuse

Group's eighth international adventure begins Monday in Sarajevo in support of Daniel Bryant Youth & Family Treatment Center

Daniel Bryant died of drug abuse more than 12 years ago, and the shock to his family resulted in a unique way to manage the grief and heartache, leading to help for more than 2,000 youth since the Daniel Bryant Youth & Family Treatment Center opened and the first Summit for Danny fundraising hike took climbers to new heights.

Patty and Bob Bryant created the nonprofit organization as an inspirational and healthy way to raise funds toward educational and treatment programs for drug addiction. The latest hike — Monday in Bosnia — is now the eighth international climb to accomplish this goal.

The organization partners with other local groups, including the Santa Barbara Council on Alcoholism & Drug Abuse, to work toward a drug-free community. The new Daniel Bryant Youth & Family Treatment Center, 1111 Garden St., is part of this ongoing effort.

The center offers teens aged 12-18 state-of-the-art treatments with an evidence-based curriculum, The Matrix Model for Teens and Young Adults, moving them toward abstinence and sustained recovery from drugs and alcohol.

Treatment includes group counseling, drug testing and individual crisis counseling with relapse prevention and life skills for problem solving and decision making.

Funds raised from the efforts of the 23 hikers participating in Bosnia starts generating Monday in Sarajevo, and the eight-day excursion will benefit the family treatment center and three main programs, including adolescent treatment, parents and Teen Court.

“Now that the building is almost paid for, the money raised from these hikes is going to scholarships to have kids receive free treatment and go through the center,” said Penny Jenkins, CADA president and chief executive officer. “And, we also have Teen Court there and anyone who goes through Teen Court who has any problem gets tested and gets referred to treatment, and it’s all in this one building.”

On Labor Day, the group will arrive in Sarajevo for a tour of historical, cultural and war sites. On Tuesday, hikers will begin the War Tunnel and Igman War Route hike heading up to Luokomir Highland Village on the third day. Day Four finds them heading from Igman to Bjelasnica followed by Sutjeska National Park. Finally, on Day Six the group will reach Bosnia’s highest peak, the 7,828-foot Summit of Maglić, before heading back down through Mostar, the Oriental Gem, and bidding farewells on the eighth day, Sept. 10.

This ambitious group of adventurers gathered a few weeks ago for a potluck barbecue off of Rincon Road in Carpinteria to share stories and meet supporters. Each hiker pays their own trip costs, including a commitment to raise at least $1,500 for the cause from fundraising invitations to family, friends and colleagues who share in the experience by pledging designated amounts for every level that the climber achieves in the eight-day adventure.

“They pay for their own expenses and they raise money like a walk-a-thon, but it’s a climb thing,” Jenkins said. “And they send letters to friends and relatives that says this is a challenge for me to reach the summit on this climb. And so, they raise varying amounts depending on how many people, how difficult the climb, and how their letters do.”

The scene was festive and casual under gray skies that couldn’t dampen the spirits of this great cause. An array of different potluck items left guests feeling joyous, as the views from the home of Lucy and Joe Overgaag were spectacular and lifted the mood even more.

The first international climb, in 1999, was up the famed 20,000-foot Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, and was followed in later years to the Canadian Arctic, Peru, Ecuador, Bhutan, Patagonia and Mont Blanc at the French, Swiss and Italian borders.

And one of the early hikers spoke of an ongoing tradition that spreads this important message across the globe.

“We went to a very remote island in the Canadian Arctic and we climbed this mountain and did the first capsule,” said Peggy Davison Phelps, who participated in the first international Summit for Danny hike. “And it’s been a wonderful tradition to leave a capsule with thoughts and prayers where people write messages about people they’ve lost to drug abuse, or for those who are fighting drug abuse. And now we have seven places around the world with these mementos.”

Locally, there is an upcoming set of hikes on Oct. 27, with three skill levels offered along the McMenemy Trail, San Ysidro Waterfall Trail or Cold Spring and San Ysidro Trails. The hikes range from elevations of 600 feet up to 3,406 feet with distances of 2.5 miles to 7.5 miles total. The local climbs are now in their 12th year and supporters and participants of all ages and fitness help to raise awareness for teen substance abuse and treatment. Click here for more information about how it works and to register.

“These events bring together members of the community who are sensitive to the issues of alcohol addiction that take that extra step and not just talk about it but do something to address it,” said Ed Cué, director of the Daniel Bryant Youth & Family Center. “And I think that’s so important, because as much as it’s important that they are raising funding, they are bringing attention and awareness to an issue that takes place in our community.”

Noozhawk iSociety columnist Melissa Walker can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkSociety, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Become a fan of Noozhawk on Facebook.

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