Story 16

Moving Forward with Purpose

Illustration by Vince “Pixar” Palko at AdToons

I have pretty much always been into “fitness” – from sports in school, to the military, to lifting during college. I started running shortly after my father passed away in 2013. I always told myself it was to clear my mind and give me some alone time to think through whatever was going on. Turns out, that really wasn’t the case.

I have always had friends and acquaintances – family friends, school friends, and work friends. Some felt like brothers, but through no fault of mine or theirs we all drifted from hanging out every day to the occasional text on birthdays and holidays.

I was raised in the Catholic faith, and later we moved to a non-denominational church, and eventually, I went my own way altogether. My “faith” consisted of the occasional prayer, discussions with my wife and her family, etc.

I was EH’d by Mickey and some other Toledo PAX during a 10K at Macqueen’s orchard, the last of a race series. I looked up F3 and thought it would be a cool way to work out, but I only went skin deep and then waited a couple weeks to post.

On October 23, I made my first f3 post at “the Gauntlet”. The workout was tough, but I also saw something I wasn’t expecting – a group of men busting their butts, working together, talking, laughing, busting balls – and right then I knew this was more than just a “cool workout”. I knew it was home.

As I continue to post, I continue to figure out what I was running from (Sad Clown Syndrome – and that is not a race you can win on your own), what had happened with my buddies (they were NOT big
enough grains), and what faith really means. I had discovered the “Problem”, and more importantly, I now have hope and faith that I can combat it. F3 has done more for me in these short, dark, cold months than I can hope to repay. The fellowship/brotherhood that can only be forged through suffering, celebrating, and praying together is irreplaceable. The simple act of sharing our hopes, fears, and prayers with no judgement and realizing how many of us share those same feelings and emotions is an almost indescribable feeling, but the best I can do is say it feels like a part of me that has been missing has now been replaced.

The impact goes beyond the AO’s and the COT (circle of trust) though – so much further beyond. At work and at home, so much of my thinking has been remapped towards acceleration that it is noticeable to those around me. My boss and co-workers, my wife and kids have all gone so far as to mention how much I have changed.

When you realize work isn’t your purpose, that your wife shouldn’t be your best friend (but something significantly more), and your kids are a part of your legacy so it is YOUR responsibility to show them how to become HIM’s… it’s like you are seeing the world in a whole new light. Time is a valuable and finite resource – we each only have what is allotted to us.

I used to slog my way through each day, only feeling the slightest bit of hope and manliness when I was grinding out a long run or lifting weights, but the feeling was fleeting. As soon as I returned home or to work, it was gone, baby gone.

The feeling of finding that missing purpose, of losing yourself in the gloom and being around other men who are equally finding that purpose and accelerating themselves is something every man should have in their life. Every day is now an opportunity to work towards that purpose, to improve myself or my relationships with my wife and children. To work towards leaving a legacy that serves them. It is not something to be afraid of, it is not something to pass up for a couple hours of sleep. Once you have that, you will never look at life the same.

I showed up on October 23rd looking for another “cool workout.” I left with a newfound sense of freedom, fellowship, and ultimately a new outlook on life in general.

Josh “Woodstock” Brown

Check out other #Miracle stories.

Story 15

Filling a Void

My name is Jonathan Burns; my F3 brothers know me by “Bourbon.” I’m not typically one to share my deep thoughts or emotions, but I am doing so here, in this medium, in the hopes that it might touch someone out there and help change their focus on life like F3 has done for me.

My name is Jonathan Burns; my F3 brothers know me by “Bourbon.” I’m not typically one to share my deep thoughts or emotions, but I am doing so here, in this medium, in the hopes that it might touch someone out there and help change their focus on life like F3 has done for me. 

About three years prior to joining F3, I relocated from Lexington, KY to Toledo, OH. There is the first part about F3 – your name. Get it? Bourbon = from KY and last name of Burns. OK, got that out of the way. I had lived in KY my whole life and in Lexington for the last 15 years of my life. I moved to a city where my wife and her family had roots, but I had none. I had made some friends through church, work, and my neighborhood. But not many that were deep relationships. You know, the ones that the other man isn’t afraid to call you out if he sees you going down a bad path. Not afraid to push you when you need a kick in the arse. I missed that. I needed that. I would not admit it. I may not have even known it. Nevertheless, I needed that. 

Going into F3, fitness was not a major concern. I am not the most fit person by any means, but I can hold my own. I regularly lifted in a nice warm gym and ran outside often. One day my workout buddy mentioned F3. I blew it off. I didn’t need that to stay fit; I had my comfortable routine. He kept at me and kept at me (EH’ing me as I have come to learn). Thanks Tots! So finally, one Saturday, I showed up. 

That first Saturday in early September was great. I got in a different workout than normal and met a few new guys who called each other crazy names. It was fun to do something different than my norm. I told myself that I’d make the Saturday workout a norm but keep my regular routine during the week. I ended up coming back the following Monday. It was a holiday and the gym was closed – might as well. It was The MURPH. Yes! I loved pushing myself with The Murph.

But wait, it was so much more than that. The Murph was fun. Finishing was fun. Cheering on the other guys and motivating others (including me) was the best. I didn’t give a rip how I did. Something in me switched on. I wanted to push others. I wanted to push myself to get better. And just like that I was hooked. 

Now I show up regularly. Usually five times a week. I push myself to get better. I push others to get better. They push me to get better. I share my life with my F3 brothers. They share theirs with me. We are there for each other in happy and sad times. It is a strong bond that will last for as long as you are willing to invest in yourself and others. My life has truly been changed by this group; it fills a void I didn’t know I had.

It is difficult to put into words what F3 means to me. But I will sum it up with this: I am supposed to be a loner. Now I would do almost anything for these guys I consider brothers in life. The fellowship and camaraderie is priceless. Watching yourself and your new brothers grow physically AND mentally is life changing. I know I can ask for help and have 20 guys ready to jump in at a moment’s notice. You can’t put a price on that. No gym membership or diet will give you that. This is free. This is F3. 

Jonathan “Bourbon” Burns

Check out other #Miracle stories.

Story 14

Already Exercising
but Missing Something!

Illustration by Vince “Pixar” Palko at AdToons

Growing up I was very active in sports and competed into my college years. Upon graduating, I was burnt out and didn’t care if I ever saw a gym or running track again. I pretty much kept to that promise and became a very inactive guy for the next eight years. 

When I turned 30 years old, I was watching an interview with Oprah Winfrey discussing her recent completion of a marathon. I had always pictured running a marathon as a very lofty goal. I’ll admit it, that Oprah interview inspired me to get back into a fitness routine. I signed up for the Walt Disney Marathon the next day  and decided to begin my training. The experience was very rewarding as I completed the event alongside my older brother. For the next ten years, I completed 10+ marathons including qualifying for and running in the prestigious Boston Marathon. Other more challenging races followed – a 50 and 100-mile ultra-marathon. 

Late in my 30’s, I decided to compete in a handful of Ironman triathlons (70.3 & 140.6). I quickly determined that while I was a decent runner, my swimming and cycling ability were less than desirable. The breaststroke technique for a 2.4-mile swim is neither efficient or pretty. 

I love the sense of community created by a running or triathlon event. These athletes are extremely supportive of one another. It’s also great to see friends and family cheering on complete strangers throughout the events. The adrenaline rush of competing in the races is unbelievable, but then the day ends and it’s over. The weeks of training leading up to the race were once a hassle but now are looked back on fondly. The shiny medal now sits in a bedside drawer collecting dust. These events filled the void of my fitness need and provided a great sense of accomplishment, but they kept me wanting something more. 

Now, I’m 42 years old and happily married to my wife of 18 years with four healthy and happy kids. My life is rewarding with time spent focused around my kid’s activities and interests. My best  friends are parents whose children participate in the same sports or activities as mine. Interests amongst the parents seem to vary, so the focus of our relationship and discussions is on our kids and their performance in the game or activity of the day. Once the sport season or activity runs its course, then those friendships typically dwindle and die. I just don’t have the excess time and haven’t spent the effort to keep those relationships alive. 

Earlier this past summer, I was walking the dog in the neighborhood along with my oldest daughter. We moved over as a car slowly passed to exit the neighborhood. The car quickly did a U-turn and began to approach us. The window slowly rolled down, and I recognized my neighbor of fifteen years. We’ve been very cordial with one another through the years but never had any friendship beyond a quick hello in passing. My neighbor began to explain a new fitness group for men that would be starting within the next month in Toledo. The immediate internal reaction was a high-level of skepticism. How much would this new fitness group cost? What is my neighbor trying to sell me here? 

The kickoff weekend of F3 Toledo happened to be an open spot on my kid’s activity schedule (very rare with 4 going at once). I decided that I would attend the first workout only out of respect for my neighbor’s invitation. The timing of the invitation was good, my fitness routine was irregular at best, and I didn’t have anything scheduled on the calendar to get me off the couch. The first workout included exercises I hadn’t done in years. Exercises with funny names performed by the entire group in cadence. The Cleveland division had come down to lead the first beatdown and called each other by nicknames. They appeared to be enjoying this stressful workout while I struggled greatly. They joked and laughed with each other while I remained silent hoping the workout would end soon. When the sixty minutes came to an end, the group gathered in the Circle of Trust. Each of us Friendly New Guys (FNGs) were given a nickname and welcomed into F3 and invited for coffee and bagels following. 

I reflected on that first day that night at home. This opportunity was different from what I had been chasing the past several years. There was a sense of belonging that I had not felt since being on a team while in high school and college. I missed that. There was a chance to build direct, lasting friendships not based on my children’s activities. An opportunity to create a social life in the early morning hours of which I was normally passed out in bed. 

This new schedule would not conflict with my family or work life. F3 would remove the constant starting and stopping of exercising for the next run on the calendar. The accountability to get out of bed and workout with my F3 brothers was something I badly needed. Sleeping in has taken a back seat to avoid the friendly ribbing for missing a workout. 

Seven months have passed since we’ve started this journey. I’ve never been as consistent with my fitness schedule in my life since my school days. Some days are harder than others to get out of bed, but that is minor to the post beatdown rewards physically and emotionally. I’ve become a better husband, father, and friend relieved from some of the daily stress. The friendships that have been created are more genuine and deep as we all strive to be better men. I’m thankful for the invitation to join this group that is open to all men.

Jon “OZ” Newsom

Check out other #Miracle stories.

Story 13

From Divorced to I’m Normal!?

Illustration by Vince “Pixar” Palko at AdToons

At the age of 46 in 2016, I had just completed my divorce after 20 years of marriage. I had a new outlook on life and knew the importance of making good choices. Connect with my high school buddies and spend money at the bar or join them in some of their bad habits? Hook up with every female I can and shake off the 20 years of monogamy? Nope! I knew I was better than all that, and I needed to make the right choices…which can be tough in this world we live! 

In March of 2016, I got involved with a group of men through my church. Over the course of the next 15 months, we met regularly and grew spiritually! One of my brothers mentioned crossfit workouts he did at a gym called Extreme Fitness by Vince. After attending 8 – 10 of these workouts, the interest quickly died off. Then in May 2017 another brother mentioned a new group called F3, and I joined a 6:30 AM Saturday morning workout with 40 other men. I attended a few Saturday workouts and joked about the timing of the 5:30 AM weekday workouts. I used to say the only thing I do at 5:30 AM during the week is take a leak, fluff my pillow, and crawl back in bed! 

Now I am hooked! By the count of my weasel shaker (F3 name for the guy who does our statistics), I have posted close to 70 workouts, am down 15 pounds, and replaced fat with muscle! The workouts are always outside, and if you would have told me I would be working out outside in weather below zero degrees, I would have said, you’re crazy! 

Here is a little of what I have experienced with F3:

  • I’ve experienced the support of 30+ men encouraging me to give a little more when my mind is telling me there is no more! There is typically 40% left in the tank at that time!

    I’m far more physically strong!
  • I’ve shared my vulnerability in the COT (circle of trust) at the end of each beat down and have learned that the burdens I carry are no different than every other man around me!

    I am normal!
  • I’ve gained hundreds of friends throughout Northwest Ohio. It is rare to attend an event and not run into and F3 brother!

    Friendship!
  • I’ve gained a routine I like. Once my workout is complete, I grab a hot shower, get ready for work and read my devotional and Bible until it’s time to head to work!

    I am spiritually stronger!
  • I’ve supported the community by joining my F3 brothers on providing presents during Christmas, coats for the homeless and other worthy causes!

    I am more generous!
  • I’ve helped my fellow F3 brothers through their divorce, the loss of loved ones, the help with teenage children!

    I am more supportive!
  • I’ve left it all on the AO (area of operation) with nothing to fear! Always afraid of coming in last in everything before F3, I know the workouts are me vs. me! If there is something I cannot physically do, I modify! If there is something I am slower than the others to complete, my faster F3 brothers return and complete with me! No man is left behind!

    I trust more!
  • I’m given the opportunity to lead and develop leadership skills!

So, what does F3 mean to me? Physical strength, vulnerability, friendship, spirituality, generosity, brotherly support, community involvement, trust, leadership, and I’m normal! 

Iron Sharpens Iron! I know F3 is an effective use of my time! See you tomorrow at 5:30 AM somewhere in the gloom…I’ll be there!

John “Worm” Kevern

Check out other #Miracle stories.

Story 12

My New Band of Brothers

Illustration by Vince “Pixar” Palko at AdToons

Band of Brothers is a term that is normally associated with the military. The basis comes from the fact as a military unit you become so close to those guys fighting and training that they become like family to you. That brotherhood is what makes leaving the military so difficult for many veterans. You lose the sense of purpose you had when you wore the uniform as you realize that you are no longer a defender of freedom. You also miss that feeling of knowing that your band of brothers have your back no matter what. That is a very powerful thing. 

I struggled with that very thing. I got out of the military in 2006 and went to college. Along the way, I got married, bought a house, and started a family. I also slowly watched my weight creep from 220 lbs. To nearly 300. One day in 2016, I came to the conclusion that I should be a lot happier than I was. I have a beautiful wife, two adorable little girls, a nice house in the suburbs, a well-paying job, and a family that loves me. I realized what I didn’t have was a purpose. I was also out of shape, and I felt like my weight was holding me back from being all that God wanted me to be. 

I started F3 on June 6, 2017 and hit my 100th post on December 16, 2017. F3 has been awesome. I have met so many high impact men (HIM) through F3. It is a group of men that makes you want to keep pushing yourself to be a better man yourself. 

Churches always push men’s groups and men’s retreats, but they also need to push F3. Get guys out of their comfort zones and watch how they change and grow. F3 has also revealed that I have a passion for helping my fellow veterans. We have been able to raise money to send care packages to troops in Afghanistan, and my fellow brothers have also stepped up to collect food,toiletries,  and other personal care items to ship as well. F3 Toledo is doing great things, and I am privileged to be a part of it.

“Bluto”

Check out other #Miracle stories.

Story 11

Helping Men Be
Better Versions of Themselves

Illustration by Vince “Pixar” Palko at AdToons

I have been part of F3 since June 2017. It changed my life for the better and I didn’t even realize I needed a change. I am so grateful for The Colonel, Klinger, Brute, and Pixar for bringing F3 to Toledo, Ohio and to my friend, Froman for introducing it to me. It has truly been more than a workout. 

I remember when I first heard about F3. It was mid-May 2017. Froman and I were helping setup for a festival at our church. He was telling me about this workout that he had gone to the weekend before. It sounded like a really tough workout. And they started at what I thought was pretty early in the morning for a  Saturday, 7 AM. Then, he started to tell me about this thing called a Ruck which they did that at 5:15 AM during the week. It sounded interesting. But, I was a night owl. There was no way I could get up in time for a 5:15 AM workout. It sounded kind of cool but kind of crazy at the same time. 

Over the next couple of weeks, I started to have a conversation with myself about why I couldn’t get up that early, let alone go work out. Over the years, I had tried working out at different times of day. I felt sluggish in the morning, rushed over lunch, and couldn’t fit it in after work. This F3 thing just didn’t sound like it would be for me. But, there was this nagging feeling that I should give it a try. There was no way I was going to start on a Saturday when they had boot camp style workouts. I was too out of shape. But, the Ruck was just a little walk through some neighborhoods with a little weight on our back. I could do that, I thought to myself. So, I decided I would give the ruck a try. 

I attempted to go to my first Ruck in late May 2017. My alarm blared at 4:45 am that morning. I woke up, turned off the alarm, and went back to bed. It was way too early for me. Two weeks later, I decided to try again. This time when I woke up, I stayed awake. On June 15, 2017, I went to my first F3 workout, a Ruck of a little less than 4 miles, with some core work every half mile. It felt great. The guys were very welcoming. I got an F3 nickname, Ticket. I learned that the two other guys that posted that day and I were the 100th men to post to an F3 workout in Toledo. It had been just over a month since F3 had started in Toledo. Everyone was full of energy and enjoying being out early in the morning on a beautiful day. I was hooked. 

After a slow start, I began to post regularly in July. The workouts were led by someone different every time. There was no routine. I didn’t know what exercises we were going to do next or how many reps we were going to do. My body just had to adapt. There were guys at the workouts with all levels of fitness, from super-fit to out of shape (me). While everyone struggled to some degree, some struggled more than others. All the while, the guys that were handling it well encouraged those who were struggling. If one of us on the “struggle bus” fell behind, someone would fall back to pick us up. No man left behind. 

Getting back out to the next workout became easier and easier. The guys I shared the morning “gloom” with helped keep me to be accountable to myself in trying to get in shape. I was also meeting new people. We would grab a bite to eat after some workouts, and we’d get to know each other a little better. There were guys at the workouts with all levels of fitness, from super-fit to out of shape. 

At some point, an old injury began to flare up, and I found myself unable to join in the workouts. I ended up having a meniscus tear. I knew I should stay away, but I missed hanging with the guys. For 3-4 months, I would find myself trying to find an excuse to get back out there every now and then. The guys would check in, wish me a speedy recovery, tell me to be smart, and heal up. But, those bonds I had started to form kept drawing me back out. 

It was during my injury, and seeking a way to stay connected to the group, that I stumbled upon a way to help the group in my own way with or without an injury. We had just had a local news team out to do a story on our local F3 group. A few of us went to a local sports bar to watch the segment. One of the guys asked about whether we had a mailing list. I didn’t think anything of it in the moment. But, a day or two later I started to think about compiling a list and then tracking who was going to workouts. I reached out to Colonel, and he said one of the guys was starting to do just that. I reached out to him to get a look at what he had done so far, and I knew this was something that was needed.

After a couple of weeks working together to build out the tracker, and getting caught up on old workouts, we were ready to start tracking on a go forward basis. We began to publish reports of who was working out the most, how many workouts were happening around the area each month, and how many new guys were working out each month. Immediately, the sports nerd in  many of the guys started coming out. They loved the stats. Over time, they would reach out to find out their individual stats. The stats were not only providing good information to organize and plan, but also additional motivation for some of the guys. Without being out there working out with them, I was helping guys to improve themselves. Also, in tracking the stats, I was beginning to learn new things that could help me professionally. Things I wanted to learn but was not feeling inspired or motivated to learn. 

As the holiday season approached, the group really began to look beyond the workouts. There were several guys that led efforts to contribute to the community and beyond. There was an event with proceeds going to the troops, gift drives for a local hospital, blanket donations for a local homeless shelter, and people shoveling driveways for neighbors. All of this was inspired by men that had been touched by F3. 

That is ultimately what I love about F3. It is more than a workout… much more. It is truly fitness, fellowship, and faith. It is beyond a doubt a workout that is as hard as you want to make it. But, it is also accountability to yourself and others to follow through on commitments. It is a leadership development group. It is the camaraderie that comes with guys you can count on. It is inspiration. It is motivation. It is doing something bigger than yourself. It is contributing to your community. It is all of that…but most of all, it is truly a gift that needs to be shared with people that don’t even realize they need it. One of the best decisions I have made in my life was the decision to wake up, stay awake, and get in a workout one summer morning. It changed my life.

Jason “Ticket” Ziegler

Check out other #Miracle stories.

Story 10

Making Me Feel Wanted
and Losing a Ton of Weight

Illustration by Vince “Pixar” Palko at AdToons

Before journeying down this crazy road called F3, I was out of shape, lazy, sluggish, and irritable. I never wanted to work out, and I never thought I really needed to. About 6 months prior to joining F3, my 5-year-old nephew looked at me one day and said “you’re fat.” That was all, just one sentence as plain as saying the sky is blue. “You’re fat.” I laughed at first and thought “you dumb kid, you don’t know”! 

The next morning for kicks, I hopped on the scale and to my disappointment I weighed more than I thought I was! 272 lbs.! My heart sank. I knew I was bigger, but the heaviest I’ve ever been was in the 250’s. I instantly thought to myself that my nephew was right! I decided to start getting on the elliptical and eating healthy. It worked, and after a short 6 months I was down close to 50 lbs, and I felt great. I enjoyed working out on the elliptical, and I would watch Netflix and workout for around 60 minutes a day. 

During this time, I was losing weight like crazy, however; I noticed I was not nearly as strong as I used to be. I lost a ton of muscle in this time frame. I tried to lift weights but with lifting and elliptical there was not enough time in the day. I then tried to do Beach Body and some of their total body workouts. They were interesting and challenging, but I found myself giving up on them and not following through. The guy on the TV would try to push me, but he wasn’t physically in the room so I wasn’t going to listen to him.

About this time a friend of mine told me he was going to try this new workout group. He said they meet outside, it’s free and open to all men. I thought I’d give it a try. It was on a Saturday morning at 7 AM. We both went not knowing what to expect but instantly became hooked. I was drawn to the physical aspect and how this group looked like something from Beach Body or from a practice from highs school sports. The guys were chummy and joking around. It was good group of guys, and at the end of the 60 minutes, they had everyone circle up and talk about what was on their hearts and minds. Guys were talking about anything from prayer requests for cancer victims to being better fathers and husbands. The intriguing thing was that they were extremely open and honest. I was immediately drawn to the vulnerability that they were showing. I thought that I would never be this open to strangers about my struggles in life.

After a few days and weeks of continuing to come out the workouts something changed. I was part of the group, and guys were calling and texting me asking if I was going to be there the next morning. It made me feel wanted, and it reminded of my days in college with the camaraderie. The group welcomed me with open arms and became family. I continued to lose weight and to date I am down 70 lbs. It is a crazy transformation. Granted, I lost most of the weight on the elliptical but my strength is back. I have definition in my arms, chest, legs, and body. That is because of F3. F3 has been the total body workout that I constantly need every day. 

So here I am 8 months later still joining my brothers every morning at 5:30 AM for a workout and a bonding experience that I cannot get anywhere else. I have developed lasting friendships that go beyond the aspect of physical activity or a workout group. This group is life changing and lifesaving. People laugh at the term “male community,” but if you don’t have it, you are lost. F3 has changed my attitude on life, my patience with my kids and family, and my physical fitness. I could never get up at 4:30 and go outside in -15 degree weather to work out before the rest of  the world got out of bed. But through my brothers, their support, and F3, I am there every day in the gloom.

Jared “Mailman” Malone

Check out other #Miracle stories.

Story 9

A Lesson in Selflessness

Illustration by Vince “Pixar” Palko at AdToons

The first I heard of F3 was from a coworker who told me a story about how he went on a “ruck” (I had no idea what this meant at the time) which began Saturday morning around 3 AM and continuing through the night into the morning. I couldn’t fathom wanting to get up that early on a Saturday for a workout – especially not for that length of time. It seemed unreasonable to me that you would waste a Friday night and Saturday morning for this. My idea of a perfect Friday night was coming home from work and cracking open a few beers while I relaxed on the couch with the family, so I told myself.

Looking back, after experiencing F3, I now realize my idea of a perfect Friday night was a far cry different than the scenario I described above. In reality, what I was doing over and over on Friday night was coming home from work, cracking open beer after beer after beer (usually until I switched to a liquor drink or two before bed) while I sat on my ass and watched the TV or scrolled through my phone while my family was in the same room.

It’s funny how your mind can portray a scenario in your head in a way that allows you to view your behavior as acceptable. I had somehow morphed my actions into something that, in my mind, I could tolerate; something that actually seemed respectable. My behavior was in fact not respectable, and moreover, in no way even acceptable. I now have a new perception of who I am as a man and what I want to be to my family. I’ve traded in drinks until after midnight on Friday nights in exchange for getting up before 5 AM on Saturdays to join these rucks which include physical exercise and uplifting conversation.

Since regularly participating in the events of F3, I’ve made a significant change to this area of my life as well as others. I used to be so focused on myself that I legitimately did not hear my wife speaking to me as I concentrated on my own thoughts. I’ve traded this mindset in for one that actively engages my wife on how I can show her how much I love her. Lately, I’ve seen a complete 180 degree shift in the strength of our marriage, and we now spend our time together enjoying each other’s company rather than getting into arguments. 

Apart from the improvement in my effort to be present in my marriage and in my family, the biggest change I’ve experienced since joining F3 has been a renewed interest in my faith. I once was heavily involved in my church community and actively participated in regular prayer, devotion, and reflection on readings from the Bible. All of these things underwent an abrupt extinction in my life on July 15, 2006 when my mother passed away from cancer. She was the foundation for my faith and the one responsible for giving me the mindset of selflessness. It didn’t matter what was going on in her life if someone needed her, she would be there. 

I remember one experience as a 17-year-old in high school that still sticks with me today. In that memory, I had to carry her from our van to the house. She was in her 5th and final year battling the cancer and undergoing chemotherapy treatments to reduce the size of a second mass that returned and was recently detected. As a result of the chemotherapy, her body had grown weak, and at one point, unable to support her weight, she fell and cracked her hip and dislocated a disc in her lower back pinching a nerve. Also as a result of the chemo, she was unable to undergo surgery which is why I had to carry her into the house. As I was carrying her in my arms to the door, I remember thinking my physical strength is what she relies on to get through her day. If I slip and fall, if I trip, if I falter in any way, I will literally and figuratively let her down. It was at this moment, when I was thinking about how helpless and  hopeless she must feel, that she looked up at me and asked if we could go to her friend’s house later in the afternoon. She further explained that her friend was having a hard time with a struggle in her marriage and that she wanted to go over to help her deal with it over a conversation and provide support. 

The gravity of this statement has not weighed on me before in the same way as I write the words now on this page. She was in her final year battling cancer. She was unable to walk and in constant pain with a pinched nerve in her back. She had every right in the world to focus on herself and yet, her main focus was helping and supporting her friend. I will never have the chance to ask her how she had so much courage to focus on others at a time like this, but I will strive to be more like this every day. F3 has renewed my awareness of this mindset that has been rooted so deeply in my past and waiting to emerge after being buried for so long. F3 has been the shovel flag that dug up the seed that was planted all those years ago. It will also be the vehicle by which it is carried out and spread in the community. 

There is not a doubt in my mind that we, as like-minded individuals, can have a truly awesome impact on our communities. The selfless mindset is one that I will continue to develop and share with others and do good for those around me. I know she would be proud.

Jake “Jennay” Wittmer

Check out other #Miracle stories.

The Frog 2019 Pre-Blast

Announcing….. F3 Toledo’s 3rd Annual CSAUP Ruck

The Frog 2019

When:         Saturday Sept 21st, 2019 @ 3:00 AM – 9:00 AM
Location:   Downtown Toledo
Cost:            $20 per PAX member with the proceeds going to charity, TBD. Please use Friends and family and send through PayPal at https://paypal.me/andyriggs

All finishers will earn the 2019 Frog patch.  This patch will never be for sale and can only be earned! #ISI #HIM

The Thang:
We will step off @ 3:00 AM sharp for six hours of 1st and 2nd F in the Gloom for some rucking fun, including PT, coupons, and the unknown.  This event will be completed as a team. Continued 2nd F will be immediately following the ENDEX with Coffee and Donuts provided.

Who Should Attend:
All F3 Toledo PAX and FNG’s.  If you’ve been to a ruck, and if you attend regular workouts with F3, you CAN do this! (We would like 100% of the PAX to be confident in their ability to participate we will complete this as a team)

Individual Requirements:

  • Rucksack
  • Headlamp & Spare Batteries 
  • Ruck Reflectors or Equivalent
  • Water Bottle
  • 20# of steel, pavers, etc. if your 149.99999# and under
  • 30# of steel, pavers, etc. if your 150# and over
  • Photo ID
  • Index Card with Emergency contact information and list of all current medications / dosage in a plastic bag

Recommended Items:

  • Gloves
  • Nourishment
  • Electrolytes in Nalgene, not hydration bladder
  • Hydration Bladder

Story 8

A Better Man

Illustration by Vince “Pixar” Palko at AdToons

F3 came right on time for me. Physically, I was in the worst shape of my life. Working out at home or at the gym was something that just didn’t appeal to me. It was a start-stop kind of deal that just I didn’t make work. 

Spiritually, I was looking for basic ways to connect more deeply and meaningfully with God. With a growing family and growing responsibilities at work, I wasn’t making the daily decision to be intentional about prayer, reading the word, and meditating on it to apply it to my life. 

Socially, I wasn’t necessarily looking for new friends, but I was looking for some basic camaraderie with other guys. My friends were either not in the area, or, just like me, were living the married, kids, and work life with limited time for anything social that wasn’t a kid’s birthday party or a school related function. With no family in the area to lean on to watch the kids, social outings were rare. 

And then I was introduced to F3. I was skeptical of coming out to a workout at first because it sounded like something put together by a group of former special forces guys – which it turned out, I wasn’t way off the mark! I finally was peer pressured into coming out and immediately, I knew I’d found what I wasn’t looking for but that I was in desperate need of.

I played team sports growing up and F3 reminded me of the physical demands, interpersonal accountability, and camaraderie that I hated and enjoyed all at the same time! The first workout I posted to was on a high school practice football field. It reminded me of the perils of 2-a-days! And I wanted more! 

After a week of coming out, our 4th child was born. I had to take some time off, but I knew I had to get back. I realized that whatever this crazy F3 thing was that I’d said yes to, it was exactly what I needed at this point in my life. It was meeting the need I had for physical fitness, but more importantly, it met my need for social connection and a renewed connectedness with God. 

My wife looked at me crazy for a while. Up at 5 a.m. Working out in sub-zero temps. I’d clearly lost my mind! I don’t blame her! I would have looked at me the same way. The simple truth is that there were things that I needed in my life that I couldn’t verbalize at the time. But once I came out, I realized F3 was exactly what I needed. F3 means something different to everyone. For me, it’s been nothing less than a right on time blessing.

Greg “Modell” Braylock, Jr.

Check out other #Miracle stories.