Think of a moment in your life when you have done something incredibly difficult. Your body was probably screaming at you to quit but you kept going because your mind pushed you through. Maybe it was out of necessity or maybe you just wanted to prove something to yourself. When this experience was over, you may have sat down and thought something like “wow, I didn’t think that was possible.” I believe that the experience of one discovering their limits, or lack thereof, when the mind prevails over the body is critical to the human experience. Military training and combat experiences frequently give individuals the opportunity to push past their perceived limits. I believe that veterans sorely miss these experiences which contributes to difficulties integrating back into society because they are harder to replicate.
My name is Nick Papsadora. I served for four years in the Marine Corps as an Infantry Officer in 2d Battalion 8th Marines. I ended my active service as a Captain in May of 2021 and moved to Bozeman to earn my Master’s in Public Administration at Montana State University. By a stroke of luck, I connected with Leslie Allen, owner of True Spirit Crossfit in Bozeman, Pan-Am Champion Olympic Lifter, Marine Corps veteran, and avid fly fisherwoman.
At True Spirit Crossfit, Leslie has managed to cultivate a community that loves to work hard, have fun, and support one another. She has attracted many other veterans and built a place that produces incredible friendships between them and clients without military experience. As a coach at her gym, my favorite thing to see is the look on clients' faces when they push themselves past their perceived limits and realize that they are capable of so much more than they previously thought. The beauty of this is that I see it almost every day in the faces of our veterans, giving them a taste of that experience they miss. To quote the vision statement from Warriors & Quiet Waters “WQW envisions an America in which a new generation of combat veterans successfully reintegrates into society.” In her own way, Leslie has found a way to help further this vision at True Spirit Crossfit by putting these groups of people together and giving them a way to share such powerful experiences.
One day while I was working out with Leslie I looked at a poster on the wall in the gym at True Spirit Crossfit displaying the 21 original Crossfit “girl” workouts. These workouts all have female names and are named after hurricanes. For reference, each of the workouts is generally considered difficult on their own and are often the only workout one would do for the day. Realizing that I too was missing the experience of doing really difficult things with great friends, a thought popped into my head. “I should try to do all of these in 24 hours, and I should make Leslie do it with me.” I decided that this event could be a great way to raise money for some local nonprofits. I chose to work with Warriors & Quiet Waters, Haven, and Heart of the Valley Animal Shelter. To raise money, I solicited pledges for a certain amount of money per workout that I completed. To give people a way to experience this challenge for themselves, I included an option to come to the gym and donate $10 per workout completed. I had generally low expectations for the event and planned to be doing those workouts in the gym by myself (and with Leslie because I didn’t give her a choice). The result could not have been further from my expectations. On the day of the event more than 15 members of the gym came and participated, some of them completed 8-12 workouts, which is an incredible accomplishment. A group of four of us, including myself and Leslie, finished all 21 of the workouts in about 18 hours. I was completely exhausted but felt elated to have raised over $4,500 for the three nonprofits and spent the day doing something horribly difficult with my friends. For anyone looking for a way to help these organizations and others like them, it’s much easier than you may think. Find a task that will bring a lot of like-minded people together, make it difficult, and connect the task to supporting a great organization like Warriors & Quiet Waters. I promise that the results will surprise you just like they surprised me.
This blog was written by Nick Papsadora, USMC, a valued member of the Warriors & Quiet Waters family. If you're interested in hosting a fundraiser to support Warriors & Quiet Waters, please contact Liz Shull at firstname.lastname@example.org.