Cpl Chris Coffland seems like he was an incredibly interesting individual. He joined the Army Reserves as an intelligence specialist just before his 42nd birthday, after years of experiences as varied as playing professional football in Finland and living with Pygmies in Gabon as research for a doctoral dissertation. November 13th marked four years since Coffland was killed by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan, a mere two and a half weeks after arriving in country. To honor him, his friends and family started the Catch a Lift Fund.
“Catch a Lift” was Coffland’s phrase for hitting the gym, which he believed was integral to leading a healthy and full life. To continue his philosophy, the Catch a Lift Fund provides disabled veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan with free gym memberships or, in certain cases, home gym equipment, to facilitate a return to physical health and, thereby, mental wellbeing. And, because it recognizes the importance of the “battle buddy” concept and how it increases chances of success, they will also cover the cost of a membership for your workout buddy.
Veterans may use any gym, anywhere in the U.S. A list of currently participating gyms (included such well knowns as Gold’s Gym, 24-hr Fitness, L.A. Fitness, and the YMCA) is available on the website but you are not limited to those. To apply, you need submit a copy of the application (it’s a short, one pager asking for details of your injury and your service), your DD-214, and proof of your VA disability rating. They are very specific that all three items be received together for an application to be considered.
I do want to mention that there is currently a waiting list. I tried to contact them to determine exactly how many people are on the waiting list and what the average wait time for a membership is but haven’t yet received a response. However, a post on their Facebook page yesterday mentioned that they have a current goal of raising enough money to get 50 veterans off their waiting list before Christmas, so there are at least that many.
If you’re a gym rat yourself and would be willing to help a wounded veteran in your area recover, you can also volunteer by becoming a workout buddy. If you’d like to help some other way, volunteers to help with fundraising and spreading the word are also needed. And, as this is a non-profit, donations are always welcome.
To learn more about Catch a Lift, go to: http://www.catchaliftfund.com/
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