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Nat’s Denali Gold Star Sisters Climb

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My name is Natalie Anne Gross, sister of fallen Cpl. Frank Robert Gross.

Many of you know my story due to the various fundraisers I have done in the past as well as due to the fact that both of my parents, Craig & Toni the Tiger Gross, are heavily integrated into the Gold Star Community.

Before I explain to you my mission, I would like to start off by a description of a Gold Star Family. “A Gold Star Family is one that has experienced a loss of a loved one- an immediate family member- who died as the result of active duty military service.”

May 18- June 8th, I have chosen to climb Mt. Denali to raise awareness for Gold Star siblings with an emphasis specifically on Gold Star sisters.

While I am grateful there is so much support for our beloved veterans, active duty, Gold Star spouses and children, there is not a huge support system for siblings like myself who have been left behind: especially women centered.

When my only little brother died from an IED impact July 16, 2011, I went into dark places.
I knew I had two options: get bitter or get better.
Physical fitness was a passion Frankie and I shared and I threw myself into competing in fitness shows.
While I knew it was a good short term goal, I was also acutely aware it wasn’t something I would fervently chase long term.

I found mountaineering in 2020, the year the world stopped for a bit.
I was instantly drawn to the harshness of the sport. Unlike fitness competitions, where you are judged on looks alone, this required an entirely different set of skills: not only physical but mental as well. The extreme physical fitness mountaineering entailed coupled with my fear of heights had me hooked.
There are numerous studies done on the connection between trauma and endurance athletes: I trained my entire life so hard but I never knew exactly what I was training for, however when I found mountaineering the pieces of the puzzle easily fit together. A light bulb went off: self induced bouts of suffering is a form of healing for us.

As the world began again, my work ramped up and climbing mountains took a back seat for several years.

Recently however, due to a job that not only allows but encourages me to chase my passions and take personal time off, I have been reunited with my terrifying old flame.
It is a love hate relationship I cannot quite explain: every step is placed with intention.

I was drawn to Denali simply due to the fact that unlike many other big expedition style mountains, you are required to be entirely self sufficient.
Not only that, but in addition to carrying a heavy pack, you are also responsible for hauling a sled up the mountain. Many climbers will tell you Denali is a beast of a mountain, even more so than the infamous Everest, which you are assisted by Sherpas who carry your load.

After completing Mt. Rainier last year, I immediately signed up for Denali however I knew the climb needed to be for a cause greater than my own.

This climb represents so much more than a simple mountain.
It exemplifies the hardships faced when losing a loved one, the hurdles one must overcome in order to enter a space of healing and the community it requires in order to tackle such a feat.

“Deenaalee” signifies the strength it requires to endure a traumatic experience such as losing a loved one: her name in native Alaskan literally translates into “The Great One”, “The Tall One” or “The High One.”
She is the tallest peak in North America and one of the 7 tallest summits in the world.

In order to add meaning to my expedition, I would like to climb to not only honor my brother but also speak upon those, much like myself, who struggle with finding purpose after such a horrific event.
For years upon years, I felt lost and hopeless and as many survivors do, I turned to unhealthy numbing mechanisms to eradicate the pain.
Through this climb , I hope to instill a sense of hope others.
I am forty one years young and just getting started on my long term athletic endeavors.

In conclusion, I hope to raise 10k in order to sponsor a weekend retreat in the beautiful Bavarian village of Leavenworth. The event will be an all expense paid weekend for 6 sisters: 3 Gold Star sisters, 2 active duty sisters & one veteran sister.
The reasoning behind the addition of AD as well as a veteran is due to the fact that these brothers and sisters can offer significant impact in our healing process if only we let them in.
When Frank died, the gentleman who were with him became my family, my brothers, and I want to honor them as well.
By understanding you are not alone in this process, the healing journey can be so much less painful.
I am forever grateful to my extended Active Duty & Veteran family.

The all expense paid weekend affair will include climbing the awe inspiring Enchantments, an 18 mile through hike with a 4500ft elevation gain in only 7 miles.
This includes a section called Asgard’s pass which rises 1900ft in less than a mile.
A 3 months pre training program will be written by Natalie, a former personal trainer.
It is a brutal yet rewarding 13 hour plus hike.

The weekend will also include a healing ceremony with somatic breath work as well as a feminine centered Goddess yoga class led by Natalie.

Please help my cause by donating whatever you best see fit.

The climb is very expensive therefore, I am also looking for sponsorship with various organizations so that the entirety of the proceeds raised through this Go Fund me account will go directly towards the Gold Star Sister weekend retreat in Leavenworth.



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Donations 

  • Kim MacDonnell
    • $25 
    • 27 d
  • Anonymous
    • $1,900 
    • 1 mo
  • Kristine Sullivan
    • $100 
    • 2 mos
  • Dana Erin Cashman
    • $25 
    • 2 mos
  • John Buzek
    • $50 
    • 2 mos
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Organizer

Natalie A Gross
Organizer
Coeur d'Alene, ID

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