Duke Energy is top sponsor in annual SC7; MUSC and BCBS are SC7’s Health and Wellness sponsors
By W. Thomas Smith Jr.
Electric power and natural gas giant Duke Energy will be the presenting sponsor for this year’s SOUTH CAROLINA SEVEN (SC7) expedition across the Palmetto State, SC7 team leaders announced earlier this week. Also partnering with SC7 is the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) and Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) of South Carolina who are the named health and wellness sponsors for 2023.
“These companies and so many other like-minded friends and generous supporters are the lifeblood of our annual expedition,” says SC7’s Dr. Tom Mullikin, noted global expedition leader, attorney, retired military officer, and chair of the S.C. Floodwater Commission. “Now entering our fourth year, we are expanding our outreach and creating far greater awareness of the significance of our July trek from the mountains of the Upstate through the Midlands, south to Charleston and ultimately Hilton Head, Beaufort, and Parris Island.”
Physically led by Mullikin and his team of handpicked adventurers (scientists, military and business leaders, even state legislators), the SC7 Expedition involves a growing number of volunteers and outdoor enthusiasts, young and not-so-young – hiking, climbing, kayaking, rafting, and SCUBA diving – across South Carolina as they explore the Palmetto State’s seven named wonders and various on-trail and off-trail excursions in between.
The seven designated wonders of South Carolina include Sassafras Mountain; the Jocassee Gorges; the Chattooga River; the Congaree National Forest; the Edisto River; the Ashepoo, Combahee, and Edisto Basin (universally referred to as the ACE Basin); and Bull Island-Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge: “Each one a unique geographical treasure,” says Mullikin.
“We think it’s important to work alongside community partners to ensure the natural beauty of South Carolina can be enjoyed by generations to come,” says Mike Callahan, state president of Duke Energy South Carolina. “Duke Energy is proud to be the lead sponsor of the SC7 expedition and its statewide focus on protecting, restoring and building resiliency in our natural environments and local communities.”
Dr. Susan L. Johnson, director of Heath Promotion at MUSC, is encouraged by the increasing interest in SC7 and the expedition’s growing number of partnerships.
“Recognizing the connection between human health, well-being, and the natural environment, MUSC welcomes the opportunity to join forces with BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina as this year’s SC7 Health and Wellness Sponsor,” says Johnson. “We believe in the importance of prioritizing the value of nature in health, healing and quality of life and we are proud to partner with SC7 in their efforts to raise awareness of our state’s natural treasures and encourage all South Carolinians, young and old, to actively explore them.”
Michelle McCollum, SC7’s chief logistics officer and president of the S.C. National Heritage Corridor (U.S. National Park Service), says she is encouraged by the growing support of the SC7. “It’s uplifting to see in others the kind of passion and enthusiasm for promoting the natural wonders of our state that we see in our sponsors and partners.”
Generally paralleling the famed Palmetto Trail, SC7 2022 concluded in Charleston with a grand event aboard USS Yorktown attended by Lt. Governor Pamela Evette, other VIPs, and deck-landing parachutists prior to kicking off a smart-reef installation operation off the coast involving an SC7-organized and led team of retired Navy SEALs, former Marine Recon operators (primarily members of FORCE BLUE) and S.C. State Guard divers supported by all manner of boats and a helicopter. This year, the trail will deviate somewhat as it ends on Hilton Head and the neighboring Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island.
“We do much more than explore: We work,” says Mullikin. “Whether cleaning and clearing ditches along highways, picking up trash on our beaches, or installing high-tech artificial reef systems on the ocean floor, we are bettering the world we live in. And that has always been and will always be the primary aim of SC7.”
Duke Energy, MUSC, and BCBS have all supported previous SC7 expeditions.
A joint partnership between the Mullikin-founded Global Eco Adventures (presided over by Mullikin’s son, Thomas Mullikin Jr.) and the S.C. National Heritage Corridor, SC7’s initial press event for the July 2023 expedition will be held May 24 at the S.C. State House in Columbia. Details forthcoming.
– For more information about SC7 2023, please visit southcarolina7.com/.