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    Service members remember fallen heroes with special workout

    Service members remember fallen heroes with special workout

    Photo By Petty Officer 1st Class Shannon Smith | 150801-N-BD629-193 NORFOLK, Va. (Aug. 1, 2015) - Danielle Throckmorton, who served 10...... read more read more

    NORFOLK, Va. - Most memorials for fallen service members feature moments of silence, poignant stillness evoking the somber reality of sacrifice, however, the 31Heroes Project commemoration is not most ceremonies. Grunts of exertion and thuds of weights hitting the ground filled the air at Town Point Park in Norfolk, Virginia, as hundreds of people participated in a symbolic work out to honor 31 service members.

    Drops of sweat fell from faces of participants as they completed the fifth annual “Workout to Remember,” which is designed to remember the 30 military service members, many of whom were Navy SEALS, and one military service dog, who died in a helicopter accident Aug. 6, 2011. Their CH-47 Chinook helicopter “Extortion 17” was downed while transporting a quick reaction force attempting to reinforce an engaged unit of Army Rangers in Wardak province, west of Kabul, Afghanistan.

    The workout was the centerpiece for the 31Heroes Project, a nonprofit organization that raises money for surviving family members of fallen service members through athletic endeavors and competitive fundraising events.

    31Heroes Project organizers reinforced the theme of the event by playing “Taps” and formally reading the names of each of the 31 fallen service members to start the day.

    “We really make sure that we constantly have those names on the forefront of our minds,” said Liz Lindsay, director of marketing for the 31Heroes Project. “We’re saying the names of friends and family of ours that have passed away since then and before that event, we’re just making sure that everyone knows why we’re doing this… it’s to say that we’re here to work out and sweat and give everything for this guy, or that guy, or this woman, because of what they’ve given to us.”

    For the workout of the day (WOD), pairs of athletes completed multiple repetitions of eight thrusters, six 15-foot high rope climbs, and 11 box jumps within 31 minutes. Each represents a significant number, 8-6-11-31. While one member completed the thrusters, rope climbs and box jumps, his or her partner ran a 400-meter dash carrying a sandbag.

    “When the workout was designed, they put a lot of thought into paying homage to the guys,” said Jason Fernandez, 31Heroes Project chief executive officer and former U.S. Navy supply officer. “It’s one of those things that when you’re in the military it’s ingrained to ‘don’t necessarily think about yourself, think about the guy next to you’ and that’s kind of the theme we wanted to go with for the workout when we made it.”

    The Town Point Park event combined the 31Heroes WOD with the Norfolk Joggin’ for Frogmen 5K, an additional event named for the Navy Seals’ nickname. A “Tadpole Trot” was also held for kids ages six and under.

    “Lots of the commands get really heavily involved in this, we have lots of (SEAL) team guys come out, we have Sailors, we have Marines, we have Air Force, we have basically every branch represented here,” Lindsay said. “In addition to that we also have a lot of first responders too, which is really awesome, just seeing the camaraderie between everyone who really gives back to our community and our country.”

    More than 300 gyms worldwide organized 31Heroes WOD events to coincide with the Norfolk, Virginia event. Athletes were also encouraged to participate remotely if a local gym was not hosting the event.

    Yeoman 1st Class (SW) Maryjoe Rifenburgh, assigned to Naval Special Warfare Development, said the workout brings people closer together.

    “If it wasn’t for events like this, you know, all the bad stuff going on in the media, it would just consume you,” Rifenburgh said. “Things like this reassure you that there is still good in the world.”

    This was Rifenburgh’s second year participating, but she said the event hit close to home after she lost a close friend earlier in the year.

    “It just reinforced why I joined the Navy and why I wanted to do this,” Rifenburgh said. “It shows support for the community, it shows that reassurance that the Navy still cares, and that even when you’re at your weakest point, you know there’s still somebody there that will pick you up and tell you that it’s OK and to keep moving and just never give up.”

    Most participants walked away from the challenge feeling a sense of accomplishment, and Lindsay says she loves being a part of it. But she said the most rewarding thing of the event is interacting with family and friends who have lost someone.

    “Just being able to say we’re standing beside you, we’re not forgetting,” Lindsay said. “Just to see that relief on their face, that their loved one did not die in vain and that they’re going to continue living on in this legacy.”

    For more information on the 31Heroes Project, visit



    Date Taken: 08.01.2015
    Date Posted: 08.07.2015 16:57
    Story ID: 172524
    Location: NORFOLK, VA, US 

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