Adventurer of the Year: Shannon Galpin

Part 5 of our closer look at National Geographic’s candidates for “Adventurer of the Year” brings us to Shannon Galpin.

Anyone with the stones to call themselves an adventurer, will eventually smack into this idea of “heroism.” Hero is a word we throw around way too easily in our culture. We use it for sports figures. We use it for celebrities. We use it for soldiers who just do their job. And there is heroism in serving your country. But for me, even this pales in comparison to serving an ideal nobody asked you to serve. At great cost and great personal risk, for no better reason than you saw it had to be done.

Enter Shannon Galpin, a 38 year old mom and mountain biker from Colorado who decided one day that signing petitions wasn’t enough to change the world.

Video courtesy of

It is impossible to tell the story of what she’s done without acknowledging the events that brought her there. Because – to paraphrase Shannon – where we were broken, we can be stronger than before. We need not be victims. Through telling our story, we become the catalyst for change.

So these are the events: At eighteen, heading home from work, Shannon was brutally attacked, raped, and left for dead. She told herself she would not live as a victim, but as you can imagine, this was no easy task. It took energy. It took focus.

Thirteen years later, her little sister was also attacked. And enough was enough. The year was 2006 and the country was deeply mired in war in Iraq and Afghanistan and Shannon got the idea to take her fight into the very teeth of the monster.

Afghanistan. A country rated the worst place in the world to be a woman. A country where women had no right to work or be educated. Had no right to love or to marry outside the family’s will. Where Afghan soldiers would throw acid in the faces of young girls for daring to attend school.

Out of the middle of Colorado, selling her own house to finance it, Shannon Galpin traveled into a war zone to say “no.” These women would no longer be your victims. She would encourage them. She would teach them to speak out. She would empower them to tell the stories they kept hidden. To use the crimes against them as evidence of social injustice.

Wow. In a country like that? With no rule of law and where violence against women is as common as swatting a donkey? And where – need we point out – foreigners are not safe… THAT, my friends, is heroism.

Bibi Aisha had nose and ears cut away for fleeing her abusive husband.

Bibi Aisha had nose and ears cut away for fleeing her abusive husband.

“Through the heartbreak of one, we plug into the many,” she says. Meaning that the problem of social injustice is easy to ignore. The story of two ten year old girls, who have acid thrown in their faces for attending school – is impossible to ignore.

In August 2010, Time Magazine ran the story of one of Shannon’s girls, Bibi Aisha, on its cover. Apologies for the graphic image, but like we said, the story of one person, a person who could be our sister, or our daughter is a lot harder to ignore. The brutality visited upon Afghan women took center stage, if only for a moment. And the world recoiled.

“We must be the change we wish to see in the world.”

                                                               ~  Mohandas K. Ghandi

You could not find another adventurer living this truth more fully than Shannon Galpin. Please check out her organization, “” or her presentation at TEDx. An amazing woman.

shannon galpin TEDx

2 comments on “Adventurer of the Year: Shannon Galpin
  1. I am Shannon’s father .

    I am a risk taker in my business but Shannon has shown me the true meaning of a risk taker . In comparison to her I have a safety net while she does not .She is sincere, passionate and open about what she feels needs to be done and she leads by example .

    Shannon brings a spirit and belief that she can and every one around her can make a difference in this world . She knows first hand about pain ,suffering, and fear because she has experienced these feelings in the silent loneliness as she herself was attacked and beaten .

    She and so many people are courageously bring brightness and possibilities to so many that live in fear every single day but who still courageously speak up for a life that all of us take for granted .

    I hope her story will resonate you you as it has with me . She is proudly loud about what must be done and if you wish to add your voice to hers and increase up the volume them please send her a note of support . She needs all of our energy to lift her up and allow her to keep her spirit bright for the women and children that she has come to love.

    Throw your pebble in the pond along side of hers and take joy in the wave that will be created.

    Happy Holidays

    A typical Dad

    • Loran, thanks for writing it. As I said in the post, Shannon is a truly inspirational woman and highly deserving of the Adventurer of the Year award (and frankly a lot more). I’m gonna keep beating the drum this, you can bet. Her kind of gutsy optimism and dedication to a cause is rare indeed in our world, but it’s what it takes to move mountains.

      Please give her our best during these holidays, and I’ll be reaching out as well! Ric Gibbs

Comments are closed.