Four veteran paddlers, William Christopher, Brian Dales, Eric Endries, and Harry Gardner will arrive in Alton via Alton Marina on Monday or Tuesday next week.For the past 6 years, Best Western Premier Alton has partnered with a company called Warrior Expedition, offering hotel night stays for their Warrior Paddle Program, a non-profit outdoor therapy program that supports veterans transitioning from their military service by paddling all 2,320 miles of the Mississippi River.

Warrior Expeditions provides veterans with everything required to complete a long-distance outdoor expedition at no cost to the veteran.

Four veteran paddlers, William Christopher, Brian Dales, Eric Endries, and Harry Gardner will arrive in Alton via Alton Marina on Monday or Tuesday next week.

William Christopher
Name: William Christopher
Hometown: Leavenworth, KS
Branch: United States Army
MOS: Field Artillery
Service: 1990-2016
Deployments: Iraq, Afghanistan

Brian Dales
Name: Brian Dales
Hometown: Summerville, SC
Branch: United States Air Force
MOS: Physical Medicine
Service: 1992-2013
Deployments: Iraq

Eric Endries
Name: Eric Endries
Hometown: Edenton, NC
Branch: United States Army
MOS: Armor Officer
Service: 1990-2011
Deployments: Somalia, Iraq

Harry Gardner
Name: Harry Gardner
Hometown: Pooler, GA
Branch: United States Marine Corps
MOS: Adjutant
Service: 1987-2018
Deployments: Saudi Arabia, Kosovo, Iraq, Afghanistan

Jacinda Dunlap of Best West Premier is very passionate about this program. Dunlap is working to organize a meet-and-greet with the veterans early next week, but details are still in the works. Dunlap has also made contact with the Alton VFW to invite the auxiliary and members to come out to welcome the paddlers. By hosting, Best Western Premier Alton is providing much-needed rest from a long journey, in addition to helping the veterans to reintegrate into society by establishing meaningful relationships between them and Alton’s veterans and citizens.

More information to come. You can follow the paddlers' journey on Facebook @Facebook.com/warriorhike.

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