George Rock (left) and his son Bill Rock map out their upcoming hike through the Shawnee National Forest downstate. | Ginger Brashinger~For Sun-Times Media
How to help
The Tinley Park-based Crisis Center for South Suburbia is a nonprofit that provides emergency shelter and other essential services for individuals and families victimized by domestic violence, and it addresses societal issues that contribute to domestic violence, according to its website. To donate, visit www.crisisctr.org/how-to-help or call (708) 429-7233.
Updated: August 6, 2013 6:06AM
Members of the Rock family, of Tinley Park, are testing their outdoor skills to the limit and hoping to bring awareness to an important cause while doing so.
George Rock, 58; his son Bill, 31; Bill’s wife, Jessica, 28, and Matt Tolene, 31, of Tinley Park, left Wednesday for a 160-mile hike in the downstate Shawnee National Forest. They will hike the River to River Trail, over a 10-day period, and are publicizing the adventure hoping to bring awareness to domestic violence.
The suggested time to allow for the hike is two to three weeks.
Each of the hikers will be carrying 50 pounds of supplies in a backpack, about 50 percent of it food. The group will carry a purification system for water they’ll find on the trail, two tents, a first-aid kit, and a snakebite kit in case of an encounter with timber rattlers, water moccasins or copperheads, all potentially deadly snakes that make their home in the forest and swamps there.
They each will need to consume 2,500 calories a day of “90 percent dehydrated food” in order to meet their 16-mile-a-day goal in a healthy manner, George Rock said.
It’s not a trip for the faint of heart.
For Bill Rock, the trip is a way to raise awareness about domestic violence.
As a law clerk and lawyer since 2005 with Block, Klukas and Manzella PC, in Joliet, he has been involved with many domestic violence cases, now the firm’s “little niche,” Bill Rock said.
But he said he and the staff found the issue to be more than simply a legal one.
“It’s not a line of work or a type of case that you leave at the office,” Bill Rock said. “I just feel so lucky that I grew up hanging out with my father through Boy Scouts and doing the adventure type of things. And then I meet kids who are in families where their mom was killed by their dad and they’re in shattered families with a pattern of violence, and I just feel super lucky.”
George Rock feels lucky, too. He said he feels good about his son’s purpose for the trip although he has a different reason for going.
Rock said spending time with people he cares deeply about in the great outdoors along a historic trail is pretty much his idea of the perfect trip.
“I’m not a lawyer. I’m a Boy Scout,” George Rock said. “I think we’re going to do it because it’s there. I want to spend time with my oldest son and his new wife and his age-old friend Matt.
“Judy (George Rock’s wife) and I have always supported our children, and this is a good thing.”
Rock said his fondest hope is that the trip will inspire other young men to go into Scouting. Both George and Bill Rock are Eagle Scouts, a father-son bonding experience they share that means a great deal to them, they both said.
Bill has forged some marital bonds through hiking, too. He and Jessica Rock spent their honeymoon in September hiking to an altitude of 14,200 feet to the peak of Mount Yale in Colorado. It’s how they vacation, Bill Rock said.
Tolene, Bill Rock’s “lifelong friend,” is filling in for Simon Rock, 25, who can’t make the trip because of his doctoral dissertation in physics, which will be given at Clarkson University in New York this summer.
There’s some important work for Judy Rock to do even though she will not be making the trip. Judy will be the “go-to” person if anything is needed or should happen along the trail, although her ability to help will be limited.
Hikers are pretty much on their own, according to the Shawnee National Forest website, because cellphone coverage does not exist on some parts of the trail.
But Judy, who will be about three hours away in the Rock family’s lake home, isn’t worried. Her husband, a 27-year veteran with the Tinley Park Fire Department and a former emergency medical technician, is skilled in first-aid.
“They’re very, very smart. They’re very knowledgeable,” Judy Rock said. “This is just a dream (trip) that they’ve always wanted to take.”