How it all began….
In the wake of the Extortion 17th helicopter crash on the morning of August 7th, Travers Collins, or TC as we call him, felt a sense of guilt for not doing enough, and an overwhelming call to action. It is because of TC that The Weight Loss for Warriors Challenge exists today.
On our Challenge website, TC wrote a blog article, on how he came to form WL4W. You can read that in full here. Below are excerpts on his road to building Weight Loss for Warriors:
“I was compounded with a feeling of not doing enough for our country, not doing my part. This wasn’t the first time I had struggled with this feeling. After 9/11 I felt a pull to join the military, a pull to go to the frontlines and protect the freedoms I was blessed to have. My thirst to join the military always seemed to be temporarily quenched by my career in the fire service. I justified not being involved in the military by helping others on the home front, but at that moment there was no justifying not doing more for my Country.
I think in life we tend to filter bad new and choose what we truly want to hear. I am guilty of doing this on a daily basis, but at this moment there was no ignoring what had happened and I was left with one option, move forward. I made it my mission to assure these servicemen did not die in vain; I wanted to make everyone around me aware of their bravery, sacrifice, and what the families have to go through when their loved one never comes home. Someone once told me, someone is never truly gone until their memory is gone, I wanted assure the sacrifice these men and their families made would not be soon forgotten.
The mission was simple, how do we honor the fallen while challenging the living? I racked my brain for an event I could put on that could generate money for the families of these fallen SEALS, and somehow stir the interest of my friends and co-workers. Working in public safety, there is always a push to get in or stay in shape. With our daily lives at the fire station are constantly bombarded with cookies, cakes, or ice cream brought in by appreciative people we have met in emergency and non-emergency circumstances.
As firefighters we are caught in a constant rollercoaster of activity. When firefighters aren’t responding to calls, they are eating in anticipation that they will run calls and will need the fuel they are putting in their bodies. Unfortunately our often sleep-deprived bodies are typically fueled by three thing: adrenaline, coffee, or sweets. Firefighters get disappointed and defeated when these diets fail, and ultimately succumb to obesity. So in an attempt to raise money and honor the fallen while helping out my co-workers, Weight Loss for Warriors was hatched.
The concept would be simple, safely lose as much weight as you could in a 90 day period, while seeking donations from friends, family, and co-workers for our weight loss efforts.
I began to float the idea to some close friends, and started a social media forum that would allow people participating to share weekly pictures of their progress, exchange motivational messages, recipes, and daily workouts. Then I began to become amazed; I was amazed at how many people began to jump on board, I was amazed at how many people were willing to donate money to our participants, and I was amazed at how motivated and driven the participants were becoming. Suddenly the focus had shifted from starting another diet, to succeeding and seeing the challenge through to support our service men and their families.
Instead of doing the challenge just for themselves, they were now entrenched in a cause bigger then themselves, a cause bigger then all of us. I asked each participant to choose one of the thirty servicemen that were killed – to use as specific motivation, get to know them, learn about their background, and find out who they were outside of being an elite warrior. Anytime a participant thought about maybe skipping a workout, or cheating on their diet, they were instructed to think about why they were doing the challenge and the serviceman they were representing.
As pledges for donations began to pile up and surpass the $10,000 mark, the question was raised: Who do we give the money to? The group wanted to assure the money went to the families of these fallen servicemen and useful programs, not to overhead or inflate salaries. I spoke with current and past SEAL team members, families of fallen SEAL team members, and two organizations continued to come up The Navy SEAL Foundation and the 31 Heroes Project. I had heard of both organizations and I was pleased to find out they were associated with each other. I knew specifically of the 31 Heroes Project because I had participated in the grueling workout at my local Crossfit gym. We contacted Mackenzie with The 31Heroes Project and there, a beautiful partnership was formed.
None of the servicemen that died on August 6th 2011 woke that morning knowing it would be their last. Conversely, none of them knew that by leaving this life as heroes and making the ultimate sacrifice they would encourage complete strangers to find greatness within themselves. The way the SEALs live their life and push themselves past their limits proves to others what is possible when you refuse to quit and when your spirit endures. They have shown us greatness and given us an example to strive toward. These men willingly made the decision to do whatever they have to do to protect our freedoms, the least we can do as a society is make it our job to support our warriors, the fallen, and their families. “