Ten students from East Lincoln High School in Denver, NC recently completed “The Grandfather Challenge” hiking program at Grandfather Mountain in Linville.
“The Grandfather Challenge” program is sponsored by The Jason Project, Inc., which was formed by the parents of Jason Matthew Nipper, who passed away in June of 2014 at age 26. This private foundation was formed to host this unique hiking program, which is designed to build self-confidence in struggling youth, as well as trust and positive rapport with adult mentors. Because of Jason’s abiding love of the outdoors and mountain hiking, James & Cheryl have established “The Grandfather Challenge,” through which students navigate all of the rigorous hiking trails at Grandfather Mountain. This program seeks to assist any special students who are struggling with personal adversities, including family, school, or other personal problems or challenges, including some students suffering from mental problems and/or drug addictions.
The ten very special students who just completed this program are: Madison Hoyle, Hayley Lefler, Makhi Keitt, Britnie Stearns, Sidney Burgess, Oliva Ayers, Jonathan Farmer, Madison Church, Devin Campbell, and Cody Smith. Each and every one of these very special and unique students did a wonderful job of accepting and completing “The Grandfather Challenge” course at Grandfather Mountain, and in so doing, they all demonstrated courage, skill, and commitment to purpose!
This group of high school students was created with the full support of Mrs. Marybeth Avery, Principal of East Lincoln High School. Guidance Counselor Lisa Donnellan carefully selected the students most likely to benefit from and fully complete this rigorous physical challenge, and continuously provided counsel and encouragement to the students under her care. She then served as a chaperone with these students, and provided mentoring and encouragement as the program progressed through increasingly more difficult hikes. School staff members Preston Springer and Jacob London also served as chaperones and drove the school bus a total of over 600 miles to make the four weekly trips to and from Grandfather Mountain in Linville. The contributions of these dedicated school staff members were invaluable, and helped make this program a tremendous success for these kids!
These hikes were conducted and supervised by highly experienced and capable hike leaders Bill Hoag and Will Williams, who taught these students valuable lessons of leadership, courage, teamwork, discipline, and character building values and goals. These ten students quickly bonded with these fine leaders, and learned valuable lessons of leadership and team unity. Our hike leaders are truly the heartbeat of our program, and we could not attain the goals that we seek without their full devotion and commitment to our mission!
The Jason Project, Inc. has formed alliances with the Avery, Catawba, Caldwell, Lincoln, and Gaston County School systems, serving many middle schools and high schools. James and Cheryl Nipper have received broad community support for their program from local Avery County charitable organizations such as the High Country Charitable Foundation, the Run For Holland Foundation, and the Grandfather Community Foundation, together with many private donors who have provided generous support and encouragement. Avery County Schools Superintendent Dr. Dan Brigman has heartily endorsed the program, and the staff and administration of various Avery County schools have helped make this program a success. Jason’s parents are deeply appreciative of the community support they have received for this exciting program! Now in its eighth season, this program is now serving students in Avery, Caldwell, Catawba, Lincoln, and Gaston counties
The Jason Project, Inc. provides hiking boots, backpacks, socks, raincoats, professional guides, and all other costs associated with this program. At the successful completion of each round of hikes, the youth participants are each given a Certificate Of Completion and a gift certificate at an awards ceremony in their honor. This current group just celebrated their achievements at a special awards dinner and ceremony at Bella’s Italian Restaurant in Banner Elk, NC.
Once again, our deepest thanks and appreciation goes out to all of these special students and chaperones who participated in “The Grandfather Challenge!”
Anyone seeking further information about “The Grandfather Challenge” and/or who may wish to sponsor a student may contact James or Cheryl Nipper at (828) 765-6561 or (904) 221-6483, or via email at [email protected], or visit their Go Fund Me page at GoFundMe.com/TheJasonProject.
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