TWIN FALLS, Idaho — Tristan Wimmer, a former Marine who served in Iraq in 2005, will be spending part of his Memorial Day weekend jumping off Perrine Bridge 22 times. The feat is meant to help raise awareness for veterans who have died by suicide.
“That’s the advocacy we’re trying to create," said Wimmer. "These long-tail effects of traumatic brain injuries and mental health issues and complications and moral injury.”
Wimmer was not the only one to serve in his family. His brother, Kiernan Wimmer, also served as a Special Operations Marine. Unfortunately, Kiernan suffered a traumatic brain injury in 2006 and died by suicide in late 2015.
Tristan has participated in several 22 Jump events in years prior and uses his past experiences with base jumping and memories of his brother to help him prepare.
“I have this really strong drive to take a terrible thing that happened to my brother and our family and try to turn that into a net positive for the wider world,” said Wimmer.
But why the number 22?
“The number 22 represents the estimated 22 veterans that commit suicide a day," said Wimmer. "That’s based on a U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs study in 2012.”
Tristan says since this study was released, that number has fluctuated, but 22 has become the chosen number for fundraising purposes.
Although Tristan is the one who will be jumping over the weekend, Canyon Ridge High School junior Savannah Slagel is helping organize the event for her senior class project.
“It’s a lot bigger than I expected," said Slagel. "It has pulled me into a lot of doing things bigger than myself kind of thing and I enjoy that.”
Tristan and Savannah are also helping raise funds for the Cohen Veterans Bioscience nonprofit organization.
“They mostly focus on veterans and how they’re affected by TBI," said Slagel.
CVB is helping accelerate the development of next-generation diagnostic tests for brain disorders. The technology will help doctors better understand the underlying mechanisms of brain issues and that veterans may face and help improve brain health.
Tristan will be jumping off of Perrine Bridge Saturday for nearly the whole day. For those who cannot attend the event to show support, there are other ways to help.