Tag Archives: Catch a Lift Fund

Jeremiah Montell Catches A Westport Lift

Three years ago, Jeremiah Montell weighed 320 pounds. He took 15 different medications. He made 3 suicide attempts.

Montell had recently retired as a Navy petty officer 2nd class, due to injuries sustained in combat. He’d deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq — after serving in both places earlier, as a Marine.

Fortunately, he learned about Catch a Lift. The organization provides gym memberships and home equipment, fitness programs and motivational peer support to post 9/11 combat-wounded military personnel, aiding in their physical and mental recovery.

Montell joined a gym in Austin, Texas. He recovered so well that he got himself certified as a personal trainer — so he could help others.

When Catch a Lift officials asked him to share his story, he became a public speaker. Now he too is a board member.

Jeremiah Montell working out in one activity …

That’s just the bare outline of Montell’s amazing story. On Saturday, November 11 (7 to 11 p.m., Birchwood Country Club) he’ll share it with Westport.

The 3rd annual event promises to be the best one yet. It’s a chance to meet inspiring veterans, eat, drink and dance.

This will be Montell’s 3rd visit here. Westport has a special place in his heart. It was one of the first places he spoke. And his reception here has been uplifting.

“I’ve gotten so much from so many people there — professionals in the fitness industry, and private citizens,” he says.

“They turn out. They want to hear our stories. And they want to  help.”

Montell calls Westport “a beautiful town. But it’s a town of real people. I know they’re busy. But they take time to come, and ask thoughtful questions. They really understand we’re going through physical and mental things. They want to be a part of my life. I’m really fortunate to have that little town on my side.”

… and another.

2016 was a milestone year for Catch a Lift. The organization raised $1 million — of which 91% goes to help veterans.

“These great men and women need our support,” says Westporter Adam Vengrow, a national board member who is instrumental in every local event.

“We’re fighting suicide, PTSD, alcohol and drug abuse, severe weight gain, physical injuries including multiple limb losses and severe burns, plus much more. Together, we make a difference right here.”

Local businesses, gyms, the Westport Police Department, first responders, VFW and many others continue to help. But over 500 veterans are on Catch a Lift’s wait list.

In addition to ticket sales for the Veterans Day event, Vengrow seeks auction donations and program ads. Click here for more information.

“Twice a year, we bring veterans from all over the country to Westport,” he notes.

“We open our doors, we thank them for their service, we offer a hug. They leave with a lasting thought that Westport is unlike any other place in the country.

In the middle of town, he adds, “our bridge is filled with American flags. There are peaceful protesters from left and right at various times there. But everyone comes together in patriotism, and support for the men and women who protect us, in the hope of an even brighter future for our country and the generations behind us. I love Westport!”

In fact, Adam Vengrow loves Westport almost as much as Jeremiah Montell.

“Catch A Lift” Catches Westport’s Spirit

“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.

(Photos/Matthew Paskert)

Westporters Ring The Bell For Wounded Vets

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, Adam Vengrow, Johanna Rossi, Andrew Berman, David Frost and Tom Dippel

At the New York Stock Exchange this morning (from left): Lance Lonegran, Johanna Rossi, Andrew Berman, Adam Vengrow, Tom Dippel and David Frost.

And How Did You Spend YOUR Memorial Day Weekend?

The unofficial kickoff to summer was sunny, hot, beautiful — in other words, summery. (Today — not so much.)

You and I and nearly everyone else in Westport went to the beach, opened the pool, grilled burgers and/or drank beer/wine/margaritas.

Dozens of other much more motivated and noble folks raised money for a great cause.

A great Memorial Day-related cause, in fact.

CrossFit Westport hosted a “Hero” Workshop. Honoring Navy Lieutenant Michael Murphy — immortalized in the movie “Lone Survivor,” about a Navy SEALs mission to take out a Taliban leader — it involves a 1-mile run, 100 pull-ups, 200 push-ups, 300 squats, and another 1-mile run.

There were 4 heats yesterday morning — and all were packed. Veterans, community members and local fitness businesses participated.

All funds raised go to the Catch a Lift Fund. The organization provides gym memberships and home gym equipment to help wounded post-9/11 service members heal mentally and physically, through physical fitness.

Westport photographer Irene Penny captured all the action.

If her photos make you feel like a slacker — don’t worry. You can join the “Hero” Workshop next year.

Or make a contribution to the Catch a Lift Fund here.

Local trainer Andrew Berman of Mental Grit Fitness gives it his all.

Local trainer Andrew Berman of Mental Grit Fitness gives it his all. (Photo/Irene Penny)

This team rocked the "Hero" Workout.

This team rocked the “Hero” Workshop. Top (from left): Jeff Queiroga, Timmy Palko, Kali Stamos. Wearing the bandanna: Chris Bronski. (Photo/Irene Penny)

Rhodie Lorenz -- owner of JoyRide Cycling -- was one of my local fitness business owners at CrossFit yesterday.

Rhodie Lorenz — owner of JoyRide Cycling — was one of many local fitness business owners at CrossFit yesterday.



Catch A Lift Throws A Lifeline

Catch a Lift fund

Right before Veterans Day, I posted a story about Catch A Lift. The non-profit provides gym memberships and home gym equipment to help wounded post-9/11 service members heal mentally and physically, through physical fitness.

Westporter Adam Vengrow was organizing a fundraiser for Birchwood Country Club. 

Folks in town responded in force. Now they’ve received word that their generosity paid off.

Juan Dominguez writes:

I joined the Marine Corps in 2007. My great-grandpa, grandpa and uncles were all in the service. So was my dad, who is my personal hero. He served in the Army, fought in Vietnam, and received a Bronze Star with a combat “V.”

I was with 3rd Battalion 5th Marines, known as the DarkHorse. On October 23, 201o in Sangin, Afghanistan, we were en route to link up with another squad from my platoon. We were going to check out a compound of interest.

After linking up with the boys we stepped off. I stepped on a pressure-plated plastic jug IED that our metal detectors could not pick up.

I was sent several feet in the air. I lost both legs above the knees. Six hours later in surgery I lost my right arm above the elbow. I have been diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury and severe PTSD.

My awards include a Purple Heart, Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal, Navy Unit Commendation Ribbon, National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal with star, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, NATO ISAF Medal, Combat Action Ribbon and Sea Service Deployment Ribbon with star.

Juan Dominguez, on his wedding day.

Juan Dominguez, on his wedding day.

I am married to a truly wonderful woman, Alexis, and have a daughter Victoria.

I am a full-time musician and photographer. My greatest musical achievements so far are playing drums with Roger Waters of Pink Floyd and G.E. Smith of Hall and Oates at Madison Square Garden, and Tom Morello and Billy Corgan at DAR Constitution Hall.

Fitness to me means having the ability to keep up in daily activities, and help me age appropriately. I want to live using my second chance to the fullest with my family.

(Hat tip: Johanna Rossi)