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Women embark on National Park Tour to inspire disability awareness

Britnee and Hamilton Kayaking

The SD Gunner Fund education and advocacy team will set off for a 2021 summer tour of the National Parks, providing education on Service Dog inclusivity while also promoting outdoor recreational therapy as a means to help and provide peace for those with PTSD, Traumatic Brain Injury and Autism.

Jess Belfry and Britnee Kinard with dog
Jess Belfry (left) and Britnee Kinard

Meet the Girl-boss power duo that is taking this epic “Journey with a Purpose”! Britnee Kinard and Jess Belfry have been friends and colleagues since 2017. Together, they come up with fun, innovative ways to raise awareness and funds for the needs of service dogs, veterans, special needs children & first responders. 

Britnee Kinard, founder and President of the SD Gunner Fund, graduated from Middle Tennessee State University in 2005 with a degree in recording industry business. Britnee left her high profile career in business, to become a full-time caregiver to her catastrophically injured husband, Hamilton Kinard, after he suffered life-altering injuries while serving our country in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Jess Belfry is an award-winning philanthropist and small business owner. In 2018, Jess became the first certified sustainable business in Savannah, GA for her industry, diverting over 95% of the business’ daily waste from landfills and waterways. As an avid nature lover, Jess has visited the 48 continental US states twice over with aspirations of visiting Alaska and Hawaii in the near future. Jess is working towards completing the Appalachian Trail and Pacific Crest Trail, a journey she started in 2016. Joining the SD Gunner Fund advisory board in 2019, Jess is responsible for the creation and implementation of fundraising events for SDGF.

Since 2017, the powerhouse duo have collectively been recipients of 16 different awards and recognitions from local and national programs, highlighting their commitment to the underserved community. 

Britnee and Jess will be jet-setting on a 10,000-mile journey exploring our National Parks to bring education and advocacy to families about the value of North America’s National Parks and the benefits they can bring to families across the nation – especially the unconventional ones like their own. Their journey will capture images, sounds, and little-known benefits and the lore of our public lands, as well as a series educating others on contradictions and conflicts, mental and physical recovery, expectations vs reality, natural wonders and the effects outdoor therapy has on PTSD and Trauma with our veterans.

They will also highlight military families, autism, and service dogs in our beautiful National Parks. They will be gathering and sharing knowledge and information, to inspire others. During their journey, they will document their thoughts, experiences, failures and misadventures, speaking with companies and organizations, giving seminars on ADA / Service Dogs, facts they witness, and hacks they learn.

“Journey with a Purpose was inspired by our families love of the outdoors”, says SD Gunner Fund Founder, Britnee Kinard. “Jess and I both understand the healing aspects of mother nature and what it does for not only ourselves but also our family. My husband, an OIF Purple Heart Veteran, is a completely different person when he’s outdoors. Nature is a calming agent for him and helps him reset and rebuild from his trauma. Outdoor therapy has long been proven to help those with traumatic past’s and we are hoping to capture that on this journey.”

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