Gig Harbor, WA

"City of big hearts"

Patients in a photo in front of the Clinic ExoSym Specialty Center, where many have been helped. (Credit: Beth Shaver)

Gig Harbor is incredible not only for its natural beauty, but also for the hearts of the people who live there. It’s a place where strangers are welcomed as family, neighbors come together as one, and peace and tranquility infuse the seaside town. I think is truly the best city in America.

Stories About Gig Harbor

I live in Austin, Texas (which, don’t get me wrong, is a great city!), but Gig Harbor will always hold a special place in my heart, and the hearts of many of my fellow patients. This is a city that graciously welcomes patients (like myself) from around the nation and world, who come to receive treatment at the Hanger Clinic ExoSym Specialty Center. From the day I set foot in Gig Harbor, this community has welcomed me, and many others with open arms. The Best Western Wesley Inn Gig Harbor makes special arrangements for patients who are coming, and local stores help out too.

There is also heartwarming military support throughout the community, especially the Race for a Soldier (Permission to Start Dreaming Foundation), run by a local resident named Leslie Mayne. Each year, a run and other events are held in honor of veterans, and many of us patients travel back each year to participate — because that’s how close we feel to the community. Leslie herself has even let me stay with her when I couldn’t afford a place to stay on a return trip to the clinic — this is the heart of the community. Ryan Blanck, the ExoSym Director at the Hanger Clinic, is likely one of the kindest, most amazing souls you will ever meet, and I wish more knew about the thousands of lives he has impacted. He is a hero to many, including myself.

Race for a Soldier is run “for hope, for support and a better future for the men and women that serve our country,” according to the race’s website. (Credit: Beth Shaver)

I love Gig Harbor and I know so many other patients who feel the same way. Leaving the city to return back to our own states, almost feels like leaving a second home because of the kindness shown to us by the residents of Gig Harbor. It is very much a healing city for many who travel there. I have never felt so welcomed in a city before and it will always hold a special place in my heart for the people who have impacted it and the beauty of the land that surrounds it. You haven’t experienced a true sunrise, until you see one in Gig Harbor — it will take your breath away. I am thankful for this community and the people who make it so special.

The natural beauty in Gig Harbor. (Credit: Beth Shaver)

More: After his own fight with PTSD this ex-officer is crossing the country to help others and honor a fallen soldier