It’s not the kind of exercise for someone who runs the Saturday morning 5-K or treks to the gym for that cardio workout, and that’s because it’s about moving tires, climbing hills clutching a support rope, and getting as muddy as needed while not worrying about what place you finish or the recorded time from start to finish.
That’s far from what “Hoorah for Heroes” is about here in the Upper Ohio Valley.
Jason Bracher-Musty, a British native who hopped the pond in 2007 to live in Ohio County and work for the Ohio County Sheriff’s Office, is also the owner and operator of JBM Personal Training/Extreme Endurance Training. The business is set up to provide a high-quality, comprehensive fitness training service.
“One of the biggest things I tell everyone is, ‘Don’t worry about what people think of you because it’s about what you want.’ It’s all about the teamwork. If you want to compete only as an individual, this might not be your kind of group. This is for a group that just wants to reach a goal and do it together,” he continued. “We don’t leave anybody behind, either, and that’s why, with the “Hill Raiser” event, the person who actually came in last is the very first person to get an award because it’s not about what place you come in. It’s about finishing with the team.”
Leaving no one behind. That’s a code taken most seriously by members of the military and by first responders, and it’s an imperative part of the program exercised by “Hoorah for Heroes.”
“It started thanks to Sean Corvelle around July 2013, and he supplied the motivation for all of the Tough Mudder events that we now have here in the United States,” Bracher-Musty explained. “I met him when I did the Tough Mudder here in this area, and he explained to me that Tough Mudder was actually designed by members of the British Special Forces.
“Then I met up with him a few more times, and we continued to talk, and he told me all about ‘Hoorah for Heroes,’ and he encouraged me to become a part of it. And that’s when I started speaking with a friend of mine, Robert Fleming, about it,” he continued. “Unfortunately, on July 14, 2014, he had a massive heart attack and passed away. At that point, that’s where I picked up the flag and kept going with it.”
Fleming, who was just 42 at the time of his death, was honored during “Hoorah for Heroes” inaugural “Hill Raiser” event on Feb. 27 on Ohio County-owned property adjacent to The Highlands. One of several challenges on the course featured “Fleming Hill.”
“And we had his family up to the event, and they were just overwhelmed by it all,” Bracher-Musty said. “He had four sisters who said they’ve always look to him to be the light of the family, and since his loss the whole family has been devastated ever since.
“And we also had Donna Vance and Tracy Hamilton, who had open heart surgery, and our plan is to honor others in the county who are battling back after having a heart attack or surgery,” he continued. “We hope to inspire them, but I believe they will also inspire us to not take life for granted. Rob was so young when he passed away.”
The “Hoorah for Heroes” organization, now a 501(c)(3) non-profit outfit, will present the “Hill Raiser” challenge annually, Bracher-Musty revealed, as long as the land is available.
“I approached the Ohio County Commission and they granted us permission to use the property that is in the back of The Highlands, and then I got our remarkable team together, and then we had the inaugural event for the good of the American Heart Association,” Bracher-Musty reported. “It was a tremendous event, and everyone worked so very hard to make it that way.
“In March of last year I decided it was time to move it to a new level, and since I am also a personal trainer, I set up a group to see what we would get,” he recalled. “We started off with six or seven people, and we geared it for all veterans and all first-responders, and we stuck with the military-style of training.”
The cash paid by the participants was then donated directly to the American Heart Association.
“Every event that we organize, we will donate 100 percent of the raised monies to the selected charity,” Bracher-Musty said. “It is our hope we will have more people who wish to participate and businesses who want to support our efforts, and that is why it’s important to all of us to give 100 percent to the charity,” he continued. “That way everyone knows that nothing is being ciphoned off for anything else besides the T-shirts, the medals and things like that.
“And we have additional sessions, too, and we can have anywhere from 15 people to 25 people, and we train outside no matter what the weather is,” he continued. “It’s really brought people out of the woodwork to build their confidence while they get into better physical shape. There’s no egos, and we do a lot of survival kinds of things and people seem to really enjoy it.”
Men and women are members of the group, with Casey Howard and Teresa Toriseva leading the recruiting efforts over the past year to gain female “Hoorah” members.
“I really didn’t expect to attract so many women to the group, but I’m really glad that they learned about it, and they have come out in full force,” Bracher-Musty said. “At first there were only a few, but then they spread the word, and it’s really been remarkable ever since.
“This gives everyone who participates a different way to train and to get back into shape,” Bracher-Musty explained. “It also provides a great way to relieve whatever stress you might be feeling.”
The local “Hoorah for Heroes” organization has upcoming events for which to train, including the eight-mile Green Beret Challenge in western Pennsylvania.
“That event is really about teamwork, too, and team building, too, because they will have to build things, problem solve, carry things, and a lot more over the entire eight-mile course,” Bracher-Musty said. “That means we have a little time to get our team ready for such an event because it’s likely that it’s something completely different from something they’ve ever experienced before.
“There also will be a few 5-K races that many of us compete in, and but after the Green Beret is really about getting ready for the Tough Mudder that will be at the end of summer and will be a tribute to the 15th anniversary of 9/11,” he continued. “That’s going to be very special for every member of our team because of what that day meant to us all.”
The Wheeling area’s “Hoorah for Heroes” organization does possess several veterans and first-responders as members, but it is open to any and all who wish to participate. Those who wish to join can visit www.extremeendurancetraining.com and can send an email to Bracher-Musty at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Come one; come all. That’s our attitude about it,” Bracher-Musty said. “It’s the kind of workout that many do not expect, but they get into it quickly because, again, it’s all about working together to accomplish a single goal, and that is to get everyone from beginning to end. Once that is accomplished everyone on the team feels this sense of accomplishment that is different from anything you’ve felt before.”
(Photos provided by “Hoorah for Heroes”)