How One ShelterBox Adventurer Turned His Passion Into Action

by Jeremy Jacobs April 7, 2023

For Steven Tonkinson, becoming a ShelterBox Adventurer was a no brainer. 

Tonkinson was already a super volunteer. A member of the highly-trained ShelterBox Response Team, he has deployed to 15 disaster zones to deliver emergency shelter and essential aid to displaced families. He also serves on ShelterBox USA’s Board of Directors.  

And he’s an avid ultra-runner. 

“You line up your passions and find this really great opportunity, and you have a recipe for success,” Tonkinson said. “For me, it’s running and ShelterBox.” 

Connect your passions, whatever they are. Line them up, and you’re good to go.” 

Tonkinson was one of the first ShelterBox Adventurers, a group of dedicated volunteers who transform their bucket list into fundraising and awareness campaigns to help ShelterBox reach the world’s most vulnerable communities.

Knowing that the challenge will benefit others helps during the training and preparation,”

Last August, Tonkinson took on the “Everesting Challenge” near Park City, Utah, seeking to ascend 29,029 feet (the elevation of Mount Everest) in 36 hours – all with a green ShelterBox strapped to his back.  His goal? To raise $29,029 in critical disaster relief funds, a dollar for each foot he’d climb.

Once Tonkinson presented his idea, the ShelterBox USA team sprang to action. A marketing campaign was quickly built around the epic climb, including ShelterBox gear and digital fundraising tools such as a webpage and social media posts documenting the arduous training process. 

Tonkinson would blow past his goal upon hitting the trail, raising more than $60,000.

“Knowing that the challenge will benefit others helps during the training and preparation,” Tonkinson said. 

“For the endurance community, the preparation for the event – or the endeavor itself – can be hours, days, weeks, months,” he continued. “That support throughout the process for something bigger than yourself is a huge motivation. You can lean on it. It’s a great thing to have in the toolbox when things aren’t going so well.” 

ShelterBox’s first Adventurer was Brittney “Bert” Woodrum, who summited Colorado’s famous 58 “Fourteeners” peaks in 2020, also carrying a ShelterBox on her back. Since then, others have canoed down the Mississippi River, rowed across the Atlantic Ocean, and cycled across states and countries, all in service of helping to ensure that everybody has a safe place to call home when disaster strikes. 

Tonkinson encourages others to join the ranks of ShelterBox Adventurers.

“Connect your passions, whatever they are,” Tonkinson said. “Line them up, and you’re good to go.” 



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