Veteran Gord Hicks and CrossFit Coach Cheri Doan have organized the 3rd annual 24 Hours of Heroes event in London being held this Saturday. (Photo by Miranda Chant, Blackburn News)

24 hour workout raises funds for veterans, first responders

Over the 24 hours leading up to Remembrance Day services in London, a group of fitness buffs will endure a series of grueling workouts to raise money for veterans and first responders battling post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Dubbed 24 Hours of Heroes, the event begins on November 10 at 11 a.m. at MVMT Strength at 206 Piccadilly St. and continues until November 11 at 11 a.m. The CrossFit-style workout marathon raises money for Wounded Warriors of Canada, a charity that aids veterans and first responders suffering from mental health issues.

The event was first launched in 2016 by Gord Hicks, a 7 year veteran of the Canadian Armed Forces and Bob Van Houwelingen, a critical care flight paramedic.

“We started out as a grassroots organization to raise a little bit of awareness and some funds for people struggling with PTSD,” said Hicks, who served overseas during Desert Storm in Saudi Arabia and Operation Harmony in Croatia. “It was just a couple guys, doing some workouts at the gym, having some fun, and we have really grown since then.”

Last year’s 24 Hours of Heroes raised $10,000. That money was used to buy a service dog for a veteran dealing with PTSD. The group has set the same $10,000 goal this year and is very close to reaching it, said Hicks.

There are 18 different workout routines planned throughout the 24 hours, each named after a fallen Canadian service member.

“They are certainly designed to make you remember the sacrifice these men and women have made for us,” said Cheri Doan, event organizer and coach. “That being said they are universally scalable , so we can as coaches in the crossfit community scale those workouts to any level of ability so that anyone can participate.”

Among the workout routines is one named for Captain Nichola Goddard, the first female combat solider to be killed in Afghanistan in 2006 and another for Corporal Nathan Cirillo, who was shot and killed while standing guard over the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier on Parliament Hill in 2014.

A six-hour ruck march – a walk with a weighted pack – will also be held as part of the event. It will take participants throughout the city starting at 12 a.m. Sunday.

“This is where we pass the torch from one location to another,” said Doan. “So we are actually going to be marching through the city through the wee hours of the morning. We leave Piccadilly St. at midnight and we head over to Hybrid Fitness at Hyde Park Rd. and Sarnia Rd. for 6 a.m. We bridge the gap through the evening hours where we kind of take a bit of a break from the grueling workouts, but we still have a ruck march and some fun tactical activities.”

For more information or to donate to the 24 Hours of Heroes click here.