To support area veterans in their return to civilian life, CrossFit Mokena presented a check in the amount of $4,000 to 1Pet1Vet Saturday, Nov. 11.
The proceeds, donated by the Mokena fitness training facility, will go toward a non-profit organization that aims to improve the lives of veterans diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder by training their four-legged companions to serve as a therapy dog.
“Small organizations, like this, that help us as we are a small organization [to] make everything that we do possible,” said Eric Carson, treasurer for 1Pet1Vet. “These donations—the check we’re going to get today—this will enable us to train and get the dogs the things that they need. The supplies that they need—the vests, the leashes—allow us to take them out for public access training, which is a big part [of what we do.]”
Therapy dogs are required to have 60 hours of public access training before they can be certified. Typically, it takes 1.5-2 years to complete the program. 1Pet1Vet Director of Training Peggy Moran designs and executes training at a facility based out of Manteno.
“Honestly, this charity was brought up by one of our members,” said Christie Neighbors, co-owner of CrossFit Mokena. “One of our coaches is a Marine, and every year, we have a huge charity event, and we always ask the members, ‘What charity would you like to pick?’ So, this was a charity that was very close to his heart, and then became very close to our hearts. We have a lot of veterans—Navy, Air Force Marines, Army. We have all the veterans here, so we got to work this organization. It meant a lot to us.”
Carson said there is a huge need for organizations like 1Pet1Vet.
“We focus primarily on veterans suffering from PTSD,” he said. “The reason we chose that is because of the unfortunate high rate of suicide in the veteran community. So, we figure this is a way we can make an impact on that number, and we found out that the dogs actually can make a big difference. They don’t necessarily work for everyone, but when they do, they have a really big impact.”
Typically, it takes $15,000-20,000 to support a therapy dog’s training.
It took CrossFit Mokena several months to plan and carry out its last charity event to raise funds.
“We more than quadrupled what we raised last year,” Neighbors said. “It really paid off. For [1Pet1Vet] to be able to come out here, the members, they get to meet the veterans and meet the dogs. It really means a lot to us.”
Neighbors said the charity event they held was very successful.
“We had a lot of support from the community, it wasn’t just our members that were here,” she said. “What we did is we did a workout every half hour for a few hours, and a bunch of people who we’d never met before came in—parents and kids and veterans themselves, not even members. This was public, so all of the community was also invited.”
CrossFit Mokena strives to support the needs of veterans all throughout the year through some of its programming, as well.
“All of our workouts are tailored based on everyone’s needs,” Neighbors said. “We do have veterans that have really bad knees, because they were paratroopers, or we have veterans with really bad shoulders just from all the shooting [of] the rifles and everything. We modify our workouts based on anybody’s needs.”
What’s more is every Saturday, CrossFit Mokena holds a Hero WOD, or workout of the day, to honor of fallen military, police or firemen who were once Crossfitters and died in the line of duty.
“On Saturdays, [workouts] a little bit more meaningful when someone who was a Crossfitter died saving and protecting the country,” Neighbors said. “We do a workout in honor of a different person every year, so Crossfit’s very patriotic. So, That’s why we really like this charity.”
Carson said on behalf of 1Pet1Vet, he wanted to express thanks to CrossFit Mokena for its contributions.
“Christie contacted us about wanting to do something [to help,] and we’re so grateful that she did,” Carson said.