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”

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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

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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

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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

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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.

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Story 7

From Walking in a Daze
to Posting in the Gloom

Illustration by Vince “Pixar” Palko at AdToons

The summer of 2017 was probably the hardest summer of my entire life.

My mom was killed in an auto accident over the Fourth of July weekend after being life-flighted to the hospital. I had already been feeling down about life and what I think could very well have been the beginning of the proverbial “mid-life crisis.”

Work had slumped into the normal grind and I found myself looking forward to the weekends, only to have them cut short by the alarm clock on Monday morning.

I listen to podcasts at work to help pass the time while I do some of the mundane tasks and eventually I heard the episode on The Art of Manliness where the podcaster interviewed Dredd and OBT about F3.

Immediately, I felt like this movement was something I wanted to be a part of – a group of men who met for fitness (for free!), who got to become friends and serve their community together. I had been paying for a membership at my local YMCA, but I hadn’t gone in months.

I canceled my membership to the Y and found F3 Toledo’s website. The next thing I knew, there was a blip in the local news about F3 Toledo, and I found out a guy who I kind of knew from my church who was a part of it. I reached out to him just to confirm the workout time and location and showed up for my first post.

The first post absolutely killed me. I knew I was out of shape, but I did not realize how bad I had gotten. I often tell people that I resembled the giant Marshmallow Man from the Ghostbusters movie when I began F3.

We did the regular monthly Murph that first time (1 mile run, 300 squats, 200 merkins, 100 pull-ups and another 1 mile run). I had a graphic T-shirt that said, “That’s too much bacon. ~ No one ever” and somehow bacon got turned into sausage, and in no time I was dubbed Jimmy Dean.

I actually changed up my work schedule to fit in F3 and jumped in with both feet into the world of F3 and rucking. I found myself posting 3-4 days each week. Then signing up for a Grow Ruck Tough. The next thing I knew, I was leading some of the workouts and posting for a 2-hour ruck with a 1 hour beatdown.

What in the world was going on?

Before F3, as my wife could vouch, I had no real hobbies. Now, I can’t seem to buy enough rucking and workout equipment. I encourage my boys to do some of the exercises I do, and they actually ask me what I did at each workout.

Now that I am a part of F3, I can say that my life has changed for the better. I am losing weight and getting into better shape. I am physically stronger and actually look forward to getting up at the butt crack of dawn to workout with my F3 brothers.

The group of guys I work out with have huge hearts to serve those around us. We are always looking for ways to give to our community: Christmas presents to a children’s hospital; raising money for a family who had ended up living in a hotel; giving to a local single father who is fostering four young kids. These men live out their faith through service in our community and seeing men in action is amazing.

The best thing about being a part of F3 for me has been getting to know the other men that I see in the gloom every time I post. The fellowship and friendship being forged is stronger and more meaningful that the vast majority of relationships I have had in the past.

Being with guys who are of the same mindset of becoming better men is inspiring and encourages me to keep posting each week.

Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.
~ Proverbs 27:17

Geoff “Jimmy Dean” Kujawa

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Story 6

Like No Other Workout
I’ve Ever Been a Part of

Illustration by Vince “Pixar” Palko at AdToons

As I sit here at the age of 47 and having spent most of my adult age achieving goals on my own, a series of events assisted by others has brought me to this point. As a railroad construction employee, I have spent much time on the road in various hotels, and that is where my personal physical fitness began.

Approaching 40 and seeing my weight increase as my motivation decreased, I began some self-reflection. As a divorced man with two teenage sons and spending weekdays on the road, I found myself justifying abundant amounts of fast food while also acknowledging all the self-created reasons why I couldn’t workout.

Finally, I decided that running would be my outlet, and I engaged it with a passion. Any time I had free (and some that I turned into free time) was spent running. It was simple: buy shoes, insert earbuds, press play and run. This continued at a feverish pace for 2-3 years with my diet in tow. It was just me, my music and my running. Unfortunately, time marched on as did my passion for running – to the point that my passion outran me, and I ended up back on that couch, or in that hotel, justifying that I COULD run and exercise, but yet I didn’t.

After some time, I ended up married again and with a third son 17 years after what I thought was my last child (thus my F3 name “GAP”). Reinvigorated to be the best me I could be, I once again focused on my fitness program. This time I would join a gym with my wife and do some classes. The staff and other members were nice, and the classes brought me out of my solo routines. While I still had my moments of earbuds, playlist and running, the majority of my time was on a spin bike or doing boot camp drills in the gym.

During this period, I also found myself looking to gain a better understanding of and relationship with Jesus. As a result, my wife and I began to try a few different churches out to see if one “fit.” Thankfully, a friend suggested we come to their church, and the pastor spoke to me. Not one on one, but in his sermon, as he delivered his message. I knew that the Lord was telling me that this is your home. Soon after we became members, I was finally baptized and accepted an invite to the family ministry team. For months, I went and participated to the best of my ability to help create ideas for the church to strengthen the bond of families and families to Christ. Then at our July meeting, one of the team members suggested I go to Southview High School on Saturday morning and try out a new workout group that her husband was part of. She took my number and assured me that her husband would contact me Friday to give me all the pertinent details, which he did.

I awoke that morning 2 hours early and sat on my couch thinking of what I had committed to. My plan was to get there early and scout it out with mixed hopes of it only being one or two people, or that it would be so many people no one would notice me. By the time I arrived, there were 10-15 people and more were pulling in. In the end, over 50 people arrived, and the journey began. Quickly, I saw this was like no other workout I had ever been a part of.This group constantly gave reinforcing positive comments, went back to rally around the last guy, and even asked how many merkins (push-ups) I had left so they could “pick me up” by doing some! However, the greatest spark came in the end.

It wasn’t when I was in the center of this group while they asked questions and called out nicknames trying to attach the perfect one – it came after. This group of over 50 guys got in a circle with prayer requests for themselves and others. They also discussed issues in the community and how we could/should help, and they wrapped arms around each other to close the circle as the Q led us in a prayer of thanks and hope for those in need. It was then that I realized this was something I needed to be part of.

Through F3 and this group of men that I have met, I have experienced so much that I could have never imagined. While I still travel for work and find myself in those same old hotels, I approach each and every day with a new outlook. I look forward to the next workout as much to see the group of guys as the workout itself. 2nd F is an experience that I otherwise would have not taken part of. In fact, the first time I let my wife know I was going to grab some coffee with the guys, she double checked that she had read the text right. Within the workouts, I find myself with greater joy as I watch another achieve a new goal than I would had I achieved the goal myself. I feel better about myself as much emotionally as I do physically. Recently, I have reached further and began to attend Bible study on Fridays. Like my first time ever going to a F3 workout, I was timid at first, but once again, I found myself supported and welcomed.

In summary, I don’t know how I could have ever thought or hoped for a group of men like that of which I found in F3. I never realized all that I was missing or all that this could be.

Chris “Gap” Sellers

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Story 5

From Fear to Faith
Through Fitness and Fellowship

Illustration by Vince “Pixar” Palko at AdToons

My story starts in an average household being raised by healthy parents. I seemed to have a pretty normal childhood despite getting into trouble around the neighborhood and/or at school.

I was always very skinny and felt awkward about my body and my looks. I had a lot of insecurities that I masked with making others feel poorly about themselves. So subsequently, I suffered from the distinct feelings that I was different and never quite fit in despite being surrounded by people.

I always had an insatiable appetite for everything. From an early age, I could never get enough of whatever I believed made me feel whole. This was not an issue early in life because that hole that I was always trying to fill was quenched with eating or playing sports. As I grew older though, I began to experiment with alcohol and drugs. This quickly became an issue, and unfortunately, it seemed to feed a dark fatal hole. This darkness took up residence directly in my soul.

Once my addiction was in full force, I no longer felt detached – I felt more a part of the group. My inferiority complex had become stronger causing me to self-medicate with sex, alcohol, and drugs. My drinking and drug use continued to progress through college. I began to cross a threshold into extremely unhealthy living. This included lying, stealing, and failing out of numerous colleges (5 to be precise).

I was an “excuse guy” who never took responsibility for my actions. I did not respect my family, my friends, myself, or God. I grew up in the Catholic faith, but I completely abandoned my relationship with God and the church. I saw them as damning and knew I was screwed. I didn’t want to hear or think about the consequences of my actions here on earth, and I certainly didn’t want to focus on the truths of my hereafter. The more I tortured my body with drugs and alcohol, the skinnier and more out of shape I became.

I have a lot of addiction issues riddled through my family, so being genetically predisposed didn’t help the situation. I was so lost, that suicide seemed like the only viable path. I couldn’t look at myself in the mirror anymore due to guilt, shame, and pure pity with how awful I looked. I tried to drink and drug myself to death, but I couldn’t even do that right.

Unfortunately, I kept waking up reliving the same day over and over – it was a live version of Groundhog’s Day. I finally became so sick of being sick and tired, that I reached out to my Mom and Dad. My Dad had been sober for 25 years and remained sober by the grace of God though Alcoholics Anonymous.

At this point in my life the only option I had was to ask Him to help me. My life immediately took a turn for the better. I received answers to so many questions – the questions I spent my whole young adult life searching for. What was wrong with me? Why was I different? Why couldn’t I drink and live my life like others?”

So my new life started, and I began to relate to a new group of individuals that were fighting this disease together. That felt good. At first, my addiction just transformed itself; I started to eat negative foods such as candy and soda. I gained an unhealthy amount of weight, to the point where I didn’t want to look at myself in the mirror. I asked God to help me, and I decided to start working out. I had never done this before, because I was always too afraid, and because I was so weak.

What I realized was pride had stopped me from even trying, because I didn’t want others to see how pathetic I was. I continued working out for a while, but I plateaued. I became complacent with my exercising and my relationships. I needed more, and this is where my journey from sad clown to the happy clown started.

I had met my friend Bryan (Klinger) through a church group that was trying to improve our relationships with God, other men, and the parish community. He was a good guy, and I trusted him. So when he told me about this workout group called F3 and asked me to show up on May 13, 2017, I said, “sure.” However, I believed it was going to be a little Bible study group where we did a couple push-ups and read some passages from the Bible. I even told my other buddy I brought, “I plan on going home after this and doing a real workout.” So mind you, I have been working out for a decade now and was in pretty good shape. I pulled into the parking lot at Southview High School and about 40-50 guys were circled up, and my jaw dropped, and I was blown away at the showing. I found out guys had come all the way from Cleveland and Columbus to help launch this program.

When they started with these weird names for jumping jacks, I really questioned what I had gotten myself into. Then they described the reverence and respect paid to the troops. I loved that – I always want to show respect for the troops. So, we get into this beatdown, and I started struggling, and I mean really struggling. There were men there 10-15 years older than me that were not hesitating, and I felt humbled. I wanted to throw-up but held on for the ride. Once they finally finished, I was thinking this is going to catch like wildfire with people like me.

We finished with a prayer at the end of the workout and prayer intentions for other people. This was something bigger than myself. Plus, everybody got this F3 name, and that was cool. I thought I had to name myself, and I said, “Drago” because my whole life people said that I reminded them of the character from Rocky. Then, I was quickly humbled when they told me that I was going to be named by the group. So I stepped into the center and before I even said anything about myself this bald joker the ‘Colonel’ says, “Mickey, call him the short old trainer from Rocky.” Makes sense since I am a 38 year old, 6’6” guy.

Obviously, this guy was trying to be ironic, and I was a little embarrassed, but these were my kind of guys. They are in shape, discuss God, and bust other guy’s balls. I was home. This is what I have been searching for my entire life.

I quickly tried to assimilate by showing up at every workout and getting to know the guys and the process. I was given the book “Freed to Lead” and was inspired even more. I met a couple guys, one named Pixar, and the before mentioned, Colonel. I was told they were the ones, along with my friend Klinger and Brute that started this PAX in Toledo.

We were an immediate success drawing 25-50 people every beatdown and the expansion was on. The addition by division was met with sadness, but Colonel told us to trust the process. We did, and he was right. I have been blessed with so many close brothers that I never had and always wanted. Like so many men have said before, “F3 answered questions I didn’t know I needed to ask.”

I have since participated in numerous GORUCK and other physical challenges. The greatest gift I was granted though, was a new fresh perspective and a change in attitude and outlook. I saw the world a whole new way through these men. They challenged us to think outside ourselves and find ways to make our community a better place. I asked God to open my heart and my mind to opportunities and ideas on how to do this. I was watching a movie that focused on the struggle of kids with cancer which would have normally touched me on a surface level, but it was much deeper through the eyes of F3. I thought, “What can I do to make their lives better?” So I reached out to the PAX, and they said let’s do a toy drive for the kids with cancer during the Christmas season. The charity and generosity was infectious amongst these men. We wrapped and handed out over 150 presents for these kids, and it all happened in under two weeks. F3 has changed me into a person who tries to be better to my M (wife), 2.0’s (kids), and each and every person I deal with.

I am in such better shape physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. I wake up every day excited to go into the gloom with my brothers. For the rest of the day I am able to transfer that energy into everything I do. The brothers I have gotten close to will do anything for me, and I will do anything for them. They have no idea how they have helped saved my marriage, my sanity, and even my life. I can never repay what they have done for me.

Chris “Mickey” Bosinger

Check out other #Miracle stories.

May 2019 Ruck – Backblast

May 18, 2019
0600-0900; 0900-1200
May Monthly Ruck: Legs were made for rucking
Shops at Fallen Timbers

First half: Wake, Isosceles, Huckleberry, Mother Rucker, Flo, Tupac, Bluto, Patriot, Billy Bob, Huffy, Mailman, Scrooge, Cousteau, Mercy

Second Half: Tupac, Billy Bob, Casper, Mercy

Before diving into this, I want to express gratitude and appreciation for everyone that showed up. It means a lot that you trusted me with 3 -6 hours of your Saturday am.

We started at 0600 with a few guys coming in hot. Rain and construction on the best exit to get to Fallen Timbers slowed up the process, but we started the ruck with 11 and ended with 14. No one dropped off, and it was nice to add to the group.

In the introduction, Mercy gave the core principles of F3 and the mission, a brief over view of our 3rd F component – Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy and Braedan’s Bridge, and off we went.  

We moved to the hotel parking lot, circled up, and did some warm-up exercises in cadence, then moved out around the parking lot and to the trailhead of the Wabash-Cannonball’s South Fork. Around this time, the rain started to pick up.

We took the South Fork to the North Fork of the Cannonball trail, onto Jerome Road to the Fallen Timbers Battlefield trail. With us, we had some sandbags and water jugs. The jugs were lighter than the sandbags, but the movement of the water, and the shape of the jugs, made the carrying awkward and difficult, as it should be during a CSAUP event.

We also had a weighted shovel flag, just to add to the difficulty.

When we exited the Fallen Timbers Battlefield trail, we were able to gather the last person of our group. We found out that we have a fugitive from Oklahoma among us. The fugitive also found out about his wanted status in the State of Oklahoma since he’s never been to Oklahoma in his life, but the situation did not bring around any more trouble than that.

We rucked over to the Fallen Timbers Battlefield Monument, and planted the flag and grounded our coupons.

At this point, Mother Rucker took lead for a segment. In two lines, we raced against the clock to dump our rucks completely, and hold them above our heads. Of course, we were not fast enough, and as a group we did some PT. There were crab walks, lunges, lunges as a group, bear crawls, and other exercises as we failed a few times to dump our rucks quickly enough, and then failed to shove it all in our rucks again.

(Pro tip on this exercise: after the initial dumping, don’t worry about putting things back in their specific pockets. Just shove it all in like a winner. This makes the dumping easier, and gives you time to help the rest of the team.

Also, at some point, even if you do things perfect as a team, the cadre will find issue with something if he wants to kill more time, so there’s the other aspect – something may get nitpicked as an excuse to do more PT that was already planned.)

After we successfully dumped and shoved it back in, we had a few minutes to pack up our rucks, and we moved out, down through Side Cut Park, down to River Road and along the Maumee River. We made our way back up to the footbridge that stretches over the Anthony Wayne Trail, and we rucked back to the starting point. While waiting to cross a street, we did some squats until the light turned. Some of us were lucky enough to do some squats with the coupons.

When we made it to our start point, we were lucky enough to have 20 minutes or so left. The standard for monthly rucks proscribes the length – 3 hours, and I wanted to be sure everyone got their money’s worth.

We circled up and did a version of the Robbie Miller WOD in cadence.  The full WOD is 12 rounds, 6 reps of each exercise. Rucks were optional for this. The 4 exercises: bent over rows (instead of pull-ups), burpee squats, 4 count mountain climbers, and ruck getups.

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This was work, and after 2 rounds, ruck get-ups were switched out with overhead ruck presses. We pushed through one more round with this modification, and we had a few minutes left.

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Wake was kind enough to let me know that I did not need to worry about anyone feeling shortchanged if we stopped at that point. By this point, the reason for our 3rd F component had arrived, and I knew we had 1 more round in us. So we persevered and finished strong.  

My face when I’m wore out.

We put in a lot of work. It was a solid 3 hours, and I was proud of the work the PAX put in. We had rucked just over 6.5 miles, with a tough amount of PT. But this work was about to be put in perspective.

While circled up doing the WOD, Tammy and Braedan arrived and watched. Tammy and her son Braedan were the 3rd F focus, and I was thrilled Tammy wanted to come speak to us at halftime. Tammy told us about Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. It affects mostly boys. When we workout, we breakdown muscle. Our bodies produce Dystrophin to help us build back our muscles. Braedan’s body does not produce Dystrophin. As you know, our hearts and lungs are important muscles. So beyond the impact of walking and physical activity, this form of muscular dystrophy threatens breathing and living.

Tammy painted a raw picture of this disease, with Braedan, 13 years old, standing there with her. However, Braedan and his family are inspiring. When they received this diagnosis, they decided to make the most out of life. Braedan is an avid hunter, and hunts everything. From hunting turkey to big game in Africa, Braedan and his family have refused to be victims.

With amazing perspective, Braedan once told his mom that he didn’t like Duchenne, but it was kind of a good thing he had Duchenne. Taken aback, Tammy asked why – Braedan said that then he would not have been able to meet so many people were it not for Duchenne.

Braedan lives life to the fullest, and is an inspiration to me, and I hope he inspires the rest of the PAX.

We have an opportunity to serve and help find a cure for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. On October 5, the 7th Annual All In for Duchenne casino night is being held at Tam-O-Shanter in Sylvania. We have opportunities to volunteer, attend, or donate items to be auctioned off. I asked the PAX to consider these things, and I will be posting more information, along with a calendar event on GroupMe.

We closed out in ball of man, as Braedan joined us.

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As the circle disbanded, Cousteau was awesome and thoughtful enough to give Braedan an F3 patch. Tammy was thrilled with our response to her and Braedan, and I look forward to coming through for her and Braedan for their casino night.

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The second half of the ruck started up as Casper joined up with Mercy, Tupac, and Billy Bob. We dumped the coupons and weight on the flag, focusing on keeping up the pace. We headed back over the footbridge over the Anthony Wayne Trail, past the Battlefield Monument, down to Side Cut’s paths along the Maumee River. This time we rucked through to the Silver Lake area, looking for to get some elevation in. We had some patches to earn via GORUCK’s monthly ruck club callout. We needed 1,500 feet of elevation, or 1,500 stairs climbed. We rucked through an outdoor event that was being held in the Silver Lake area with our American flag.

We thought the sledding hill was going to be an option to earn the elevation, but there was an archery activity taking place, with arrows being shot towards the hill. We reconsidered and moved on.

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Along the way, Tupac EH’d several people and ate wild Asparagus

Planting the flag, we found a flight of 15 steps. With some quick math, we figured out we needed to go up and down these steps 15 times. We split it up into quarters and pushed. It was not easy, and Casper who co-Q’d the beatdown at the Fortress just a few hours before which happened to skew heavy toward leg work, was blessed with more leg work.

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A lot of people were in Side Cut while we earned our patch. Again, this was not easy, and it was hard-earned. I was proud of the push we made as we earned this patch together.

We stopped a short second, ate some Gushers, and headed back to the starting point. It was a beautiful day, the sun was out, and it was wonderful weather.

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We got back to the starting point, hitting 7.5 miles for the second half, 14 miles total for Tupac, Billy Bob and me.

I’m incredibly grateful for the opportunity to lead this ruck. I’m appreciative of all those who came out. I’m glad I was able to present a cause that means something to me.

Legs were made for rucking, and one day, Braedan might have that opportunity because of the money raised to help end Duchenne.