Nate Denofre – Founder
Nate founded Courage Incorporated in 2015. He is a rugged yet compassionate man from Ishpeming, Mich. Nate was born with Amniotic Band Syndrome which left him without legs below the knee.
He has worked in factories, farms, as a cement mason, and as a machinist. He has also served as a wilderness guide taking people out bow hunting and fishing.
Nate’s entire life has been one spent proving people wrong when they told him he couldn’t do certain things. As an amputee, Nate has experienced a lifetime of complications related to his condition. Realizing that his time with full mobility was fading, Nate decided to start Courage Incorporated. He launched the organization in spectacular fashion by spending 149 days and nights hiking and canoeing throughout the U.P. wilderness.
When asked about why he’s so passionate about Courage Incorporated, Nate said, “I am certain that we can actually heal our minds and spirits naturally by using the great outdoors to boost our confidence and willpower.”
Erik Conradson – Co-Founder
Erik was born just down the hall from Nate at Bell Memorial Hospital in Ishpeming, Mich. The two grew up together and always had similar passions for the outdoors. Erik graduated from NMU and soon after moved to Appleton, Wis.
Don’t let that fool you though; he’s still a Yooper through and through.
He spent close to 20 years working in the retail industry, focusing on Operational and Security Management. When Erik learned of Nate’s desire to start a non-profit organization he put his years of business related experience to the test.
Erik said, “Starting a non-profit from the ground up hasn’t been easy. But we know now that there are people out there who need us — who depend on us to be able to do the things a lot of people take for granted. To be able to share our passion for the great outdoors, and help others find the courage to experience it for themselves, is something that I’d work tirelessly for.”
Josh Smith – Veterans’ Ambassador
Josh grew up in Sterling, Mich. He joined the Marine Corps and served from 2007 to 2011. He was a model soldier who fought to protect the freedoms that we all enjoy. He is undoubtedly the perfect candidate represent Courage Incorporated as the team’s Veterans’ Ambassador.
Aside from his role at Courage Incorporated, Josh is working to become a union electrician. He is passionate about the outdoors, and loves to bow hunt, fish, and camp.
When he was asked to join Courage Incorporated, Josh said, “This is a great way for me to give back not only to our vets, who gave us the opportunity to do this, but also to encourage people with a physical disability. I want to help show them that they can still get out in the woods and enjoy it as much as I do. Seeing the smiles on their faces gives me the greatest feeling a guy could ask for. I look forward to seeing all of you out there!”
Justin Marietti – Media/Press Director
Another native of Ishpeming, Justin was born and raised in the same neighborhood as Nate and Erik. The three of them started school together and have known each other since the beginning. Justin said he remembers taking swimming classes with Nate, and it was way back then that people began telling Nate his limitations — he never listened, and is still exceeding them today.
Aside from Courage Incorporated, Justin also works as the city editor of The Mining Journal in Marquette, and runs his own part-time photography business, Ghost City Photography.
Justin spends most of his time with his daughter, as well as in the great outdoors with friends, going camping, kayaking, snowshoeing and enjoying all the peace the U.P. wilderness has to offer.
When he heard about the effort that Erik had started on Nate’s behalf, Justin wrote a handful of articles — some of which received national exposure. He got behind the project because he says he knew how much potential Nate had to impact the lives of others.
“I’ve known him since we were kids, and people have been treating him like certain things would be impossible for him ever since then,” Justin said. “He’s proved them wrong time and time again, and I think he’s a perfect inspiration to others who may have been told the same sorts of things.”