My wife was busy relocating our family of 6 to Vancouver, BC last weekend and asked me to stay home with the kids. I agreed. Twenty-four hours later, the car had 600 new miles, I had a new tattoo, my kids had an adventure of a lifetime, and I had some explaining to do.
Let me start from the beginning: I don’t relax well. If I’m not moving, I’m not growing. What a waste.
As I thought about what to do with the kids that Saturday, I couldn’t shake the idea that we were wasting a golden opportunity to explore and learn.
Spartan was holding a few events that day: the U.S. Championships in West Virginia, and races at Breckenridge and West Point. I love the military and everyone connected to it, so I loaded the kids into the car and set off for West Point.
At the race, my kids and I met Ralph Osterhoudt, a 92-year-old World War II veteran who was at Pearl Harbor when the Japanese attacked. We ran with the folks behind Mended Swords, a group who brought in the remaining unit members of the tragic MARSOC Marine Corps plane crash. We raced alongside Ryan Major, a quad-amputee wounded veteran, and Mason Symons, a quadriplegic Marine who was injured in a tragic accident.
At one point, we helped carry the wooden “chariot” with the MARSOC Marines that got Ralph through the course. Along the way, we met someone who had been diagnosed with stage 4 cancer, who told me that there’s “no way cancer is taking me out…AROO!.”
It was an incredible day for not only me but for my kids who got to experience it firsthand. Stay in school, kids … unless you have the opportunity to attend the School of Life, as we did that day. It was an absolute blessing.
Then things got really interesting. We ran into Noah Currier, a paraplegic Marine who was injured in a tragic car accident after returning from a deployment. Noah now runs Oscar Mike, a nonprofit that helps injured veterans get moving again. Oscar Mike is a radio call signal used by the military to advise that they are “on the move” to another location.
Noah was there with his team, all of whom had “Oscar Mike” tattooed on an arm or leg. I asked Noah if he had one. He did not. He asked me if I had a Spartan tattoo. I did not.
An hour later, we entered a tattoo parlor called Crooked Arrow, just outside of West Point. We both agreed to get the same tattoo.
I think you’ll agree that the two logos complement each other perfectly. At Spartan, our mission is also to get people moving. What started as an obstacle course race in Vermont has now become a platform to advocate for veterans, military personnel, and people all over the world to be just a little bit better every day.
After all, we’re all infinitely improvable. We can all be a better version of ourselves tomorrow. That realization really hit home for my kids as they watched Ryan Major, the four-limb amputee, get out of his wheelchair and crawl up the sandbag carry with a full men’s sandbag. He’d toss it in front of him and then crawl to get it, repeatedly, until he crushed the obstacle.
That’s what Spartan is really about. It’s not just a show of strength. It’s a show of will—to never fear life’s obstacles, to never talk yourself out of pursuing the impossible.
I could have let the kids park themselves in front of the TV that day, but that would have been lazy. I always prefer learning.
On the drive back home, my wife called my cell. She was onto us. I put her on speaker.
“Kids, you have a good time?” she asked.
They didn’t answer. Instead, they started screaming “Dad got a tattoo!”
There was silence on the other end. “The important thing to know,” I jumped in, “is that the kids did not get tattoos.”
“Also,” my oldest son said, “it was the best day ever.”