Sean Gobin, a member of the University’s Darden School of Business Class of 2014, was recently nominated as one of “CNN’s Top Ten Heroes of 2015” for his organization, Warrior Hike.
Every year, CNN recognizes 10 individuals who have made a significant contribution to helping others and changing the world. Each hero receives $10,000 and is featured in “CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute,” which is broadcasted globally Dec. 6. After a period of voting online, one individual is chosen as “CNN Hero of the Year” and receives $100,000.
Gobin was nominated for his non-profit organization Warrior Hike, which supports veterans returning home. Gobin himself left the Marine Corps in 2012 after having served military officer positions in Iraq and Afghanistan. After coming home, he wanted to attend a graduate school and receive an MBA, but decided to hike the Appalachian Trail prior to enrolling.
On this hike, he realized that hiking would be a great way for other veterans to transition from their military service, and began to explore this idea while at Darden, Gobin said.
Gobin founded Warrior Hike, which provides veterans with equipment and supplies to do a long distance hike on a National Scenic Trail of their choice, including the Appalachian Trail, Florida Trail and Ice Age Trail. Along the way, Warrior Hike also organizes support from trail communities to help the veterans with food and lodging. Once the veterans complete their hike, they receive assistance with job opportunities. The goal of the hike is to allow veterans to transition back to civilian life with the support of other veterans and communities.
The program has assisted more than 70 veterans, and spans over six different scenic trails as well as the Mississippi River, which houses a paddling program for injured veterans who cannot hike.
Gobin said his experience at Darden helped him found and run Warrior Hike.
“Being a military officer provided a lot of skills that transfer to the civilian sector but I was missing a whole other set of skills that I needed to be able to successfully grow and run a non-profit organization,” Gobin said. “Darden was the perfect bridge to bridge those military skills over to the civilian side.”
Through Darden, he was able to acquire many of the financing and accounting skills needed to maintain a non-profit organization, as well as build on existing leadership skills, Gobin said.
“Marines have hands-on leadership experience whereas Darden has a more philosophical approach to leadership so I learned more about the psychology behind leadership and how it can apply to different scenarios,” Gobin said.
Darden Dean Scott Beardsley commended Gobin for his achievements.
“Darden has a long history of educating military veterans, who go on to do amazing things," Beardsley said in an email statement. "Sean exemplifies responsible leadership, and it's great to see him achieving his full potential and helping others achieve theirs.”
Gobin plans to further expand his program by including a cross country bicycling trip next spring and by incorporating a long distance trail in every state. He said he hopes being a CNN Hero will help bring more attention to his program.
“I’m really excited because of the additional exposure that it’s bringing to the program, both because it’s getting the word out to more veterans, and getting the word out to get more supporters who can help support more veterans,” Gobin said.