On Thursday and Friday, May 27 and 28, Southern Pines CrossFit will hold its annual Gold Star Murph to benefit Gold Star Teen Adventures. The WOD will raise money to help fund opportunities for the children of military members, first responders and members of the intelligence community who have lost their lives in the line of duty.
Gold Star Teen Adventures is a Fayetteville-based nonprofit organization that offers experiences in rock climbing and scuba diving, training in survival camps and more for children of fallen service members. Founder and adventure director Kent Solheim is a firm believer that life after loss often begins outside of your comfort zone.
“This is not a grief camp. We do not sit around the campfire and talk about our loss,” he says. “There are places out there that do that, and they are important and needed, but that’s not us.”
All year, Solheim strives to provide “world class opportunities to do cool things,” in an environment where everyone is bound by tragedy that no one has to talk about.
“You’re never going to forget a parent. It’s all about remembrance, but it’s about moving forward, too.” (Read the experience of Katie McCloskey here).
After Grief, a New Mission in Gold Star Teen Adventures
The philosophy was born from Solheim’s own experience as a Green Beret. In 2007, Solheim sustained serious injuries during a deployment that resulted in the loss of his right leg.
“I was at Walter Reed Hospital, only three weeks off the battlefield, when my surgeon told me he had another guy there with similar injuries to me. He was six months ahead of me in recovery, but he asked me if I wanted to talk with him. I said yes because I had no idea what the path in front of me was going to look like,” Solheim said.
“I remember watching this young man walk into my room. That was it for me. I just thought, ‘I can walk again.’ And I did, because six months later, I was the guy who walked into another room, because I’ve walked the road ahead of them.”
The path in front of Solheim is not unlike the path in front of Gold Star teens. It was riddled with challenges, resulting in almost three years of recovery and 36 surgeries. Today, he is overwhelmed with gratitude.
“If I asked myself what got you through the worst times, it was being around someone that had gone through the same types of things I went through. They know the road I’ve been on,” he says. “It’s when the students recognize the experience with the foundation and its impact that makes this all worth it.”
Support Gold Star Teen Adventures during Southern Pines CrossFit’s Murph on May 27 and 28. featuring seven WODs to choose from, a yoga sesh with Hot Asana and Live American Yogi, and a chance to enter raffles and shop vendors. Tickets are $40.
Read more and find other ways to support the organization here.