NFL great TEDY BRUSCHI, now an ESPN analyst, former Tennessee Titans coach JEFF FISHER and former Philadelphia Eagles and St. Louis Rams player CHAD LEWIS are preparing to climb Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, Africa, beginning May 13. They will be joined by four wounded warriors, and the climb will raise awareness and enlist the public‟s aid for Wounded Warrior Project (WWP), a nonprofit organization whose mission is to honor and empower injured service members.
The highest mountain in Africa, Mount Kilimanjaro is the fourth highest mountain in the world, and the tallest freestanding mountain. It is comprised of three different volcanic cones. In preparation for their climb, Bruschi, Fisher and Lewis will travel to Nevada, Colorado, and New Hampshire for practice climbs.
Among the group of wounded warriors making the climb are Bryan Wagner, from Exeter, CA and Ben Lunak, from Grand Forks, ND, each of whom gave a leg in service to their country. Another climber, Mike Wilson, from Annapolis, MD struggles daily with the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury (TBI) while Nancy Schiliro from Hartsdale, NY gave an eye in service to her country. These warriors recently completed a three day training session at Under Armour‟s IMG Training Academy in Florida; participated in the Bataan Memorial Death March in White Sands, NM; and climbed Quandary Peak in Golden, CO.
This climb marks the launch of Wounded Warrior Project‟s “Believe in Heroes” campaign. The campaign is designed to educate the public on the challenges facing this new generation of wounded American heroes.
Under Armour is outfitting all participants in the Kilimanjaro climb, and is making a financial contribution to WWP in support of the climb. Under Armour is committed to supporting military and public safety heroes with its UA Freedom campaign and has a comprehensive partnership with WWP.
The NFL has a longstanding history supporting members of our armed forces. Many NFL teams work with WWP, often inviting Warriors to attend home games during football season. The NFL invites members of the WWP to the NFL Draft and other events annually, and will make a financial contribution to WWP as part of the climb.
The group will summit Kilimanjaro from May 13-19, following a day of acclimatization in Tanzania. The climb is intended to raise awareness of the accomplishments of our country‟s wounded heroes, in addition to raising funds for WWP.
“Climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro will be memorable, but to be able to experience it with service members that have sacrificed so much for our country is what I'm truly looking forward to,” said Bruschi. “These men and women are beyond inspiring, and I am thankful to the NFL for this once in a lifetime opportunity.”
“We are honored to be kicking off our „Believe in Heroes‟ campaign with the NFL and Under Armour,” said WWP Executive Director Steven Nardizzi. “Both are true partners and have shown a continued and passionate commitment to raising awareness to the struggles and sacrifice of this generation of wounded warriors.”
“UA Freedom is proud to outfit and support the team of climbers who have demonstrated great courage and perseverance and continue to do so by tackling Mt Kilimanjaro,” said Bryan Offutt, Director of Outdoor Marketing at Under Armour. “The NFL and Wounded Warrior Project are great partners and we look forward to another successful climb in support of such a great cause.”
Three-time Super Bowl champion Tedy Bruschi joined ESPN as an NFL analyst in August 2009, one week after announcing his retirement from pro football. The former New England Patriots linebacker appears on NFL Live, SportsCenter, ESPN Radio and other platforms, including the local sports site ESPNBoston.com, ESPN‟s home for New England sports news and information, which launched in September 2009.
Bruschi played in five of the Patriots franchise‟s six Super Bowl appearances and in 189 career regular season games (and 22 playoff games) during his 13-year career (1996-2008), all with the Patriots, who selected him in the third round of the 1996 NFL Draft. Patriots coach Bill Belichick also called him “the perfect player.”
In addition to his relentless worth ethic and intensity, Bruschi is equally well known for his determination and professionalism off the field. After suffering a stroke in February 2005, he endured months of rehabilitation before being medically cleared to play football and returning to the lineup in October. Bruschi was named the 2005 NFL Comeback Player of the Year, and the recipient of both the Ed Block Courage Award and the Maxwell Football Club's Spirit Award.
Bruschi is also an accomplished saxophonist who has played at the prestigious Boston Symphony Hall as part of a benefit for the Longy School of Music.
Under Coach Jeff Fisher‟s leadership, the Tennessee Titans reached the playoffs six times, collected three division titles and one AFC Championship title in 1999. He holds the franchise record for wins by a head coach. In 2009, Fisher moved into the top 20 on the NFL‟s career head coaching wins list.
A former NFL player, Fisher played five seasons as a defensive back and returner for the Chicago Bears from 1981-85 after being drafted in the seventh round from the University of Southern California.
Active in the community, he holds an annual celebrity softball game each summer that benefits several Middle Tennessee charities. Through his time in the area, Fisher forged a strong relationship with the 101st Airborne Division (located near Nashville). He is also an avid outdoorsman, and completed the Country Music Marathon in 2002.
Former Eagles and Rams player Chad Lewis grew up in Utah and played football as a walk-on at Brigham Young University. He played for the Rams during their 1999 Super Bowl XXXIV win and was also a member of the Eagles team that played in Super Bowl XXXIX.
While serving on a mission trip to Taiwan, Lewis learned to speak fluent Mandarin Chinese. He has represented the NFL in Asia for the last 10 years visiting China, Korea, Thailand, Singapore and Taiwan.
The author of a book called Surround Yourself with Greatness, Lewis now works at Brigham Young University as their Associate Athletic Director for Development. He and his wife, Michele, have seven children.
About Wounded Warrior Project
The mission of the Wounded Warrior Project™ (WWP) is to honor and empower wounded warriors. WWP‟s purpose is to raise awareness and to enlist the public‟s aid for the needs of injured service members, to help injured servicemen and women aid and assist each other, and to provide unique, direct programs and services to meet their needs. WWP is a national, nonpartisan organization headquartered in Jacksonville, FL. To get involved and learn more, visit woundedwarriorproject.org.
About Under Armour, Inc.
Under Armour® (NYSE: UA) is a leading developer, marketer, and distributor of branded performance apparel, footwear, and accessories. The brand's moisture-wicking synthetic fabrications are engineered in many different designs and styles for wear in nearly every climate to provide a performance alternative to traditional natural fiber products. The company's products are sold worldwide and worn by athletes at all levels, from youth to professional, on playing fields around the globe. The Under Armour global headquarters is in Baltimore, Maryland, with European headquarters in Amsterdam's Olympic Stadium, and additional offices in Denver, Hong Kong, Toronto, and Guangzhou, China. For further information, visit www.underarmour.com.
Clare Graff, NFL
Danielle Cavalli, Under Armour, Inc.
Ayla Hay, Wounded Warrior Project