2024 Conquering Kili Class
U.S. Army Veteran
Los Angeles, CA
John Follmer’s dedication to community impact stems from his experience serving in the Army Infantry with the 172nd Stryker Brigade in Fairbanks, Alaska. He demonstrated bravery during his deployments in Mosul and Baghdad, Iraq, earning recognition with the Army Commendation Award and the Combat Infantryman Badge. Following his honorable discharge in 2008, John transitioned to civilian life while maintaining a steadfast commitment to service.
In addition to being a devoted husband to his wife Maggie for seven years and a loving father to three young children, John actively engages in community initiatives. As a Veteran Peer Support Specialist with Goodwill Southern California’s Veteran Peer Access Network (VPAN), he works tirelessly to ensure fellow veterans receive the necessary support and resources for successful transitions into civilian life. Leveraging his firsthand experience, John provides invaluable guidance to those who have served.
John’s community involvement extends beyond his role at VPAN. He serves on the board of Vets Whole in One, an organization that has positively impacted Los Angeles veterans for over six years. Through programs focusing on mindfulness, golf lessons, and community meals, Vets Whole in One provides vital support and camaraderie to veterans facing various challenges.
John is also an active member of an organization called Merging Vets and Players, a community that brings together combat veterans and former professional athletes to restore the camaraderie and team spirit that they once experienced. Through this organization, John actively contributes to fostering a sense of unity and shared purpose among driven individuals, combining the unique strengths and experiences of both veterans and athletes. His participation in Merging Vets and Players demonstrates his commitment to building strong connections and empowering individuals to thrive in their post-military and professional sports lives.
John holds the position of Vice President for Welcome Home Troops, a longstanding initiative that has provided over 60,000 free tickets to NASCAR events and organized uplifting tailgate parties for over 15 years.
John’s dedication to supporting disabled veterans is evident through his role as Adjutant for Disabled American Veterans Chapter 5 in Los Angeles, the city’s oldest and largest DAV Chapter. He passionately advocates for disabled veterans, ensuring they receive the necessary assistance to lead fulfilling lives.
Over the past two years, John has directed his passion toward the restoration of the Japanese Garden at the West LA VA. Collaborating with the 1887 Fund, which focuses on enhancing historical buildings on the West LA VA Campus, he aspires to create a tranquil and uplifting environment for veterans and their families.
In his latest endeavor, John combines his love for community engagement with a global impact. He is raising funds to drill a deep borehole well in East Africa through the Chris Long Foundation’s Waterboys initiative. Waterboys funds water access solutions in East Africa to provide clean and accessible water to communities in dire need. This campaign enables him to extend his reach and effect lasting change for those lacking essential resources. The 6-day climb to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro is in recognition of the countless miles of travel the local communities undertake to deliver clean water to their loved ones.
John Follmer’s extraordinary commitment to service, extensive engagement with multiple organizations, and current efforts to create a global impact exemplify his dedication to building stronger communities and improving lives. His unwavering pursuit of positive change serves as an inspiration in hopes to continue to create a ripple effect of impact for years to come.
Each new Conquering Kili class accepts the challenge to embark for the summit, a walk that represents the miles that many African women journey on a daily basis to fetch water for their families. While training for the climb, each team member works to raise funds and transform communities through the gift of clean water.