Sacrifice, Determination and Teamwork
Over the weekend, I participated in the "Tough Mudder," an obstacle course spanning 12 miles over rocky and hilly terrain in Pocono, Pa. Among other challenges, it involved numerous dunks in ice cold water pits -- usually for failing to manage an obstacle properly or sometimes just because they were part of the course.
Months ago when I was originally invited to participate, I seriously debated whether or not to take part in this grueling event. One factor that sealed my decision to participate was learning that proceeds from the Tough Mudder are donated to the Wounded Warrior project, an organization that strives "to honor and empower wounded warriors" with community support and unique services that enable them to readjust successfully to civilian life. Thinking of the men and women who make unfathomable sacrifices for their country, and knowing that my registration for the Tough Mudder would benefit an organization that supports this courageous group of individuals gave me just the motivation I needed to commit to this challenge.
Fast forward six months since I first learned about the Tough Mudder, and I’m in the midst of completing by far the “craziest” thing I’ve ever done. For me, the highlight of the course was an obstacle called "Everest," a high, half-pipe wall that you might see at a snowboarding or skateboarding competition. At the top of the wall were a number of participants lying down with their hands stretched downward to catch the hand of a another participant — teammate, if you will— who ran up the half pipe and jumped up to be pulled over the wall. While I waited for my turn, a team of four guys dressed in military fatigues went ahead of me. I watched as three of them walked to the wall and proceeded to lay on their backs (on the wall) one on top of the other — feet on the shoulders of the man beneath him — to create a human ladder. Next I noticed the fourth member of their team — who had lost his lower left leg and most of his left arm in combat — begin to climb up the human ladder they created. He climbed to the shoulders of the top guy, reached up with his right hand and grabbed the waiting hands of other participants who pulled him to the top of the wall. You can only imagine the cheer that erupted from the crowd when he reached the top. It was in this incredible moment that I truly understood what not only the Tough Mudder but also the Wounded Warrior Project were all about: sacrifice, determination and teamwork.