|Rodger Marticke, Drew Marticke '97, Hank Leukart '97 and his
mother Barbara Leukart join together around Keir Marticke's photo
after the speech.
The Keir Vivienne Marticke Speaker Series was established at Western Reserve Academy in 2005 in memory of Hudson’s Keir Marticke ‘02. Marticke was passionate about travel, finding authentic experiences and learning from them. While on one of her great travel adventures Keir contracted a deadly viral infection and tragically passed away only days later in her sleep. Supported by the generosity of the Marticke family and friends, the Marticke Fund was established to bring renowned speakers to the WRA campus.
This year’s Marticke Speaker was Hank Leukart, who graduated from Western Reserve Academy in 1997 and grew up in Hudson. Leukart is now a Los Angeles-based filmmaker, television producer and writer. He has produced a variety of adventure-travel television shows including CBS's Amazing Race, Discovery's Naked and Afraid, History's Top Shot and TNT's 72 Hours. His recent short documentary, Umbrella Dreams, followed a group of student activists in Hong Kong for four days during the Hong Kong democracy demonstrations in the fall of 2014.
A self-proclaimed travel addict, Leukart has journeyed to more than 40 countries while writing his popular online travelogue, Without Baggage. His recent trips have included hiking 115 miles across Iceland, backpacking through post-revolution Egypt, boating down the Congo River, cycling through Vietnam and backpacking in Chilean Patagonia.
Leukart is inspired by Keir Marticke and her story. In his speech to the WRA community, Leukart referenced a quote from Marticke as a good example of how he feels people should live their lives. Marticke said, “I am not in her country to buy things at a fourth of their western price. I want to know about her life, her first kiss, her father.” Leukart stated that Marticke seemed to be discovering that catapulting through a great travel adventure wasn’t enough for her, she was yearning for a more authentic travel experience.
During the speech, Leukart was asked to answer the two questions that he is asked most often. What’s a real travel experience? Does travel change you? Leukart said, “A real travel experience is when you go on your own, and you’re nervous and scared, that lets you know that it’s an authentic experience. Authentic travel is being true to yourself and by being true to yourself it leads to a deep engagement for the world.”
Leukart went on to explain, “Travel can change you, it can make you a better person, and you can learn a lot from it and have a better understanding of different types of people throughout the world.”