Meet the second half of our blogging duo, Nicole Winget, as she explains how she became involved, and why she stays involved, with Operation Enduring Warrior.
I met Operation Enduring Warrior on a Spartan course about two years ago. I had just wrapped up a day of volunteering and was checking out the course. As I came to the vertical cargo net, I saw a group of people in camo, wearing gas masks. It certainly caught my attention. The next thing I notice is that they were assisting several individuals, who I would later learn were Adaptive Athletes, over the obstacle. It was silent as the spectators watched the spirit and hard work of the team. All of a sudden a little girl, no older than seven, yelled out “YOU GUYS ARE DOING GREAT!!” I then watched every masked athlete walk by and give that little girl a high five or fist bump. This short moment has stuck with me since that day. I started asking everyone who these people were and what they do. Once I got some details, I knew I wanted to be a part of this amazing organization.
I started my involvement by getting to know the mission of the organization, doing some fundraising, and competing in several events wearing OEW gear. I loved spreading the word of what we did and what we stood for. Then I deployed in 2014 (I am a Navy Reservist) and when I returned home, I felt a desire to stay connected to a mission; a need to stay connected to the amazing people I served with in an intense environment. I reached out to OEW and was invited to get more involved as a Community Ambassador. My first full event with the team was at the Carolinas Beast on a cold, cold morning in 2015. I was hooked before this race but this event took it to the next level. Supporting the Masked Athlete Team, cheering on the Community Ambassadors, and getting to know the Adaptive Athletes was life changing.
I saw, first hand, the massive impact that OEW has on our veterans. It is the physical and mental embodiment of honoring, empowering and motivating. It honors the spirit and comradery that is the cornerstone of the military. It empowers our wounded veterans to do things they may have never thought possible again. It motivates our Adaptive Athletes to accomplish amazing feats.
And it does so much for us Community Ambassadors. It has allowed me to stay connected to a mission – it has given me something beyond myself to serve, even when safe and warm on home ground. It has given me motivation to stay physically fit, mentally focused, and part of the larger community. I have added to my filmstrip of unique memories and the rolls of people I proudly call friends.
Being an OEW Community Ambassador adds such an amazing facet to our lives. I am so proud to be a part of this wonderful organization and look forward to being a part of sharing our stories through this blog.
To get involved, visit our website to learn how to sign up as a Community Ambassador. And if you ever have a question, comment, or blog idea, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me. Just be prepared to hear from one of OEW’s biggest cheerleaders!