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Gold Star Teen Adventures is a Fayetteville-based nonprofit that works to provide opportunities for adventure for the children of fallen heroes. Ahead of a local fundraiser for the organization, we talked to one teen about her experience.

Katie McCloskey’s dad, pictured center in this undated photograph | Courtesy of Katie McCloskey

How did you find out about GSTA?

My mom is the administrative director for GSTA.  My dad’s best friend Kent and Trina Solheim founded GSTA. They have been a huge part of my life since before I was born. 

How long have you been part of the program?

I have been involved with GSTA from the very beginning. GSTA was founded in 2013. I was too young to participate at the time but I was able to “help”. 

Courtesy of Katie McCloskey

What types of experiences have you had?

My favorite experiences have been Scuba diving in Grand Caymans and hiking the Appalachian trail last summer. I am looking forward to becoming a Divemaster myself one day, to give back to the organization. 

Have you connected with any peers?

I have very strong bonds with almost everyone at GSTA. It’s almost like an unspoken connection. We all know why we are there. We don’t need to talk about it, but it’s an immediate bond. 

I look forward to being a mentor one day for this incredible program. I honestly really look forward to every adventure. Seeing the people in this organization (mentors, staff and teens)  is the highlight of my summers. 

Courtesy of Katie McCloskey

What would you like people to know about GSTA?

GSTA is not a grief camp. These adventures bring us out of our comfort zones. We are taken on adventures our dads would have taken us on. My dad was a combat diver. I had no idea I loved diving as much as I do until receiving my dive certification through GSTA.  The adventures GSTA have push me out of my comfort zone with my closest group of friends. 

I would say GSTA has helped me heal. Before GSTA I didn’t feel like I had a place where I fit in or had people that liked me for me.  Now I have found a place where everyone as unique as me and no one is ever left out of the fun.

Find out more about Gold Star Teen Adventures here.

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