The Maine Veterans Project Story
The Maine Veterans Project has a unique story stemming from a single, successful event on October 18, 2015.
Founder Shawn Goodwin joined the military in 2002, leaving his hometown in Downeast Maine, never imagining he might return as a resident. After seven years of honorable service, Shawn moved to San Francisco where he held several roles such as a reality TV star, small business consultant and a few trips to austere places as a contract security director. Other than sporadic, short trips, Shawn hadn’t been to Maine for a “good Maine Summer” in 13 years, so that’s what he decided to do in 2015. On July 27th, Shawn touched town in Bangor to spend a month with his family in Downeast Maine to gorge on lobster and pristine wilderness bordering an endless coastline.
While home, Shawn read an article about Army Major Justin Fitch, an individual battling terminal stage IV colon cancer and given months to live. The catch is Justin’s final mission, which is to fight the veteran suicide epidemic. He didn’t want to travel, he didn’t want selfish wants fulfilled like any of us would, he wanted to uphold his oath and save the lives of his brothers and sisters. Shawn was inspired by his courage and ashamed that he was unaware of the suicide epidemic among veteran – 22 veterans take their lives every single day.
Moved by Justin’s story, Shawn decided to do what he could to contribute to Major Fitch’s cause. Shawn organized an ATV ride to raise money to help veterans. Expecting a handful of people to pull together and raise a few hundred dollars at best, the result far exceeded expectations. In 28 days from conception to execution, this small community managed to bring out 330 riders on over 200 machines to raise over $4,200.
This rewarding experience inspired Shawn to create the Maine Veterans Project, which still hosts, their annual ATV Ride for a Reason, the flagship fundraiser that will always be in honor of Justin Fitch.