GUILDERLAND, N.Y. – A fitness challenge will be taking place Saturday to raise money to benefit the Danny Dietz Memorial Foundation.
The Danny Dietz Memorial Foundation is an organization "created for the purpose of bettering the community by training and mentoring at risk youth." It also gives out yearly scholarships to military families who have lost a loved one in battle.
The foundation is named after Gunner's Mate 2nd Class Danny Dietz, one of the Navy SEALs who died in Afghanistan in 2005 during Operation Red Wings.
Operation Red Wings was a reconnaissance mission led by four Navy SEALs – Lieutenant Michael Murphy, Dietz, Sonar Technician 2nd Class Matthew Axelson and Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Marcus Luttrell – with the goal of scouting out a guerilla war terrorist aligned with the Taliban. The operation was compromised, and the four SEALS were attacked by more than 50 anti-coalition enemy forces.
Lt. Murphy made contact with headquarters, and a helicopter with eight additional SEALs and eight Army Night Stalkers were sent for an extraction mission. However, a rocket-propelled grenade struck the helicopter killing all 16 men aboard. Of the four SEALs on the ground, Luttrell was the only one who survived.
At the time, Operation Red Wings was the single largest loss of life for Naval Special Warfare since World War II.
The Dietz family began the Danny Dietz Leadership & Training Foundation in Danny's memory, and it conducts workout classes that foster a team-building environment for youth to learn leadership skills. The organization is based out of Dietz's hometown of Littleton, Colo.
The local Danny Dietz Memorial Fitness Club Challenge is being organized by Donna Sullivan whose best friend's nephew was aboard the helicopter that was shot down during the 2005 mission. The challenge will take place Saturday, September 28 between VENT Fitness in Guilderland and BEST Fitness in the Westgate Plaza in Albany.
Over 70 people registered to participate in the challenge, including members of the U.S. Navy and the general public. The event includes exercises that are similar to a SEALs workout during training. Participants will have to complete six exercises consisting of 28 repetitions and 5 sets of each. The exercises are push-ups, weighted lunges, sit-ups, burpees, four-count flutter kicks and ground to overhead plate presses.
The gym with the most participants and the lowest cumulative time will win awards and prizes. Dietz's mother and sister will be at the event to hand out the awards.
The challenge takes place from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.