VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — 31Heroes teamed up with New Realm Brewing and other organizations to put on the cross-fit challenge called '31Heroes Workout of the Day.'
The 31 men were lost in an attack on a military helicopter in Afghanistan on August 6, 2011. When the Chinook helicopter, known as Extortion 17, was shot out of the sky; 30 U.S. service members, many of them locally-based navy SEALs, were killed, along with a military working dog.
Each year on the first weekend of August, people around the country come together to honor and remember them through the 31 Heroes workout. The WOD event has been held every year on the first Saturday in August and happens simultaneously across the globe, in a local gym or other locations.
The challenge calls for a 31-minute workout between two partners who do running, heavy lifting, rope climbing and so much more. Around 250 people signed up for the event to get in a sweat and raise money for the families of the men who served our country.
One participant, Amy Rutledge, said she is a military spouse and loves to honor the men and women who sacrifice their lives as they travel overseas.
"It definitely gets you tired, lot of strength...but it's a lot of fun,' said Rutledge. "The whole time you're doing it...you're doing it for these members who didn't make it home."
31Heroes board member, Vanessa Coria, said despite it being ten years later, those families are still grieving and the community is still supporting them.
"Oh, it's everything to me," said Coria. "This is ten years we've been supporting this effort, supporting these families, letting them know we won't forget. The community lets them know they won't forget. It just give you that tiny little taste of what it's like to serve and sacrifice."
While many know these men through a cross-fit event, some knew these military members personally. Stephen Stewart said he lived near some of the Navy SEALS and knew their families.
"They were neighbors of ours, they were friends of ours. Their wives were strong. They have strong families. We'd see them doing workouts at four o'clock in the morning and then one day, you know, they just didn't come home," said Stewart who was getting ready to start his cross-fit challenge.
Stewart said this is the first year he is participating in the workout. He said while he expects it to be challenging physically, he knows it will be tough mentally and emotionally as well.
"It's hard to watch a three or four-year-old son growing up without a father and just have pictures of him," said Stewart, referring to his neighbor's families.
"So, I'm here today, to see if I can carry on some of that."
All of the proceeds from the events go toward supporting the families of the lost service members. Part of the funding goes to the treatment of traumatic brain injury (TBI) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). You can help the organization by donating here.