“06880” is a little late to this story.
But it’s never too late to celebrate our Iraq and Afghanistan veterans.
Or the people who help them.
Catch a Lift is a national non-profit dedicated to the physical and mental recovery of post-9/11 combat-wounded military personnel. The organization provides gym memberships and home equipment, fitness programs and motivational peer support.
Last weekend — thanks to the tireless efforts of Mental Grit Fitness owner/trainer Andy Berman; Westport Police Chief Foti Koskinas and his entire department; Westporter and CAL board member Adam Vengrow, and the support of Joyride, Crossfit Revel and Achieve Fitness — 16 veterans came to town.
And then they went to town, with workouts, training and plenty of camaraderie.
A special shoutout goes to Daniel Slow. The Weston High School basketball player raised over $5,000 for Catch a Lift, thanks to pledges for every point he scored.
Photographer Matthew Paskert captured much of the action from last weekend’s “Westport for Warriors” weekend. If his images inspire you to learn more about Catch a Lift, click here.
Ringing the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange is a great tradition. Many times, the honor goes to business executives, politicians, sports idols or movie stars.
Today the bell was rung by real heroes.
Catch a Lift Fund — the organization that provides wounded veterans with gym equipment and memberships — did the honors. And when they were done, the entire floor gave the vets a rousing ovation.
Catch a Lift has a strong Westport presence. So it was quite appropriate that — flanking 2 veterans this morning — were Westporters Adam Vengrow and Andrew Berman. Both have done yeoman’s work here — and nationally — for the cause.
After the event, 6 Westport volunteers posed for a group hug.
At the New York Stock Exchange this morning (from left): Lance Lonegran, Johanna Rossi, Andrew Berman, Adam Vengrow, Tom Dippel and David Frost.
Last fall, “06880” gave a shout-out to Catch a Lift. The organization — which provides gym memberships and home gym equipment to help wounded post-9/11 service members heal mentally and physically, through physical fitness — was planning a Veterans Day fundraiser.
Westporters responded generously. Just before Christmas, I posted some feel-good thanks from a Marine who benefited big-time.
Catch a Lift continues to do great things.
Andy Berman is a personal trainer. He’s worked in area gyms (and owned one). He’s been to private homes (including Catch a Lift supporter Adam Vengrow’s). He’s trained Westport police.
Berman donated his services for the Veterans Day fundraiser. That’s where he learned about Sergeant Ricky Davis, a highly decorated Marine who deployed 5 times to Iraq and Afghanistan. He’s been through tough times, but has found fitness to be a life-saver.
Sgt. Ricky Davis (ret.).
Catch a Lift is flying Davis up from Florida. Could Andy help?
He sure could.
Berman wanted to put Davis through a “fitness and knowledge boot camp.” He’d show him strength and conditioning, yoga, spinning — everything.
Berman pitched his idea to Joyride Westport, Crossfit of Westport and Achieve Fitness. They compete every day for members, but all were delighted to cooperate.
Davis is coming the last weekend in February. He’ll be joined by another Catch a Lift veteran. Shadd Hoffman was deployed twice by the Army. He now works for the Department of Homeland Security.
Both men want to open their own gyms. Berman and the other owners will show them how.
Berman calls the weekend “Westport for Warriors: A Fitness Workshop.”
I call it awesome.