GREENVILLE – The Gauntlet was back at Chenoweth Trails in Greenville on Saturday for the third year with participants attempting to conquer natural and man-made, military-inspired obstacles in a fun and muddy race.
“To be able to have a fun day with family and friends and compete and run a course like this, it is awesome,” Matt Light said. “We get a free Darke County mud bath. People pay big money for this stuff in the city.
“It’s an unbelievable day,” Light added. “We have been blessed with the weather the last three years. This is the way to spend a Saturday in Darke County.”
Proceeds from the race go to The Light Foundation — created in 2001 by Greenville native, New England Patriot, three-time Pro Bowler and three-time Super Bowl champion Matt Light — strives to instill and augment the values of responsibility, accountability and hard work by providing youth with a unique outdoor learning experience that assist them in reaching their goals and highest potential.
The National Guard was out in force to lend a hand with the event as well as adding an exhibit of military vehicles and weapons while handing out bottled water to the Gauntlet participants as they crossed the finish line.
“We get so much support here locally,” Light said. “Having the National Guard a part of this and being able to start this off with the national anthem has such a great presence for the men and women that serve this country.
“When you think of the military and you think of all the things that they have to do, all the different responsibilities and roles … and that leadership part of it is one of the most important things,” Light said.
“I was blessed to go with General Dempsey, our chairman of our Joint Chiefs of Staff on a USO tour of Afghanistan, Greece, Italy, Germany, and what you learn real quick is that leadership, how they instill that in young men and women,” Light added, “when they come in the service and how that serves them throughout their careers.
“Such an important part of it a lot of kids these days don’t get that part of,” Light continued. “It is a mirror image of what we try to do for the Light Foundation with our leadership camps. Teaching these kids how to be responsible, ethical, accountable and how to be leaders. That’s what we call being real. So it’s a lot of synergy between both groups.
“It’s important for me to be able to work with kids not just where I grew up and played football but in New England and Purdue.” Light said. We try to focus on areas where I spent time and had an impact in parts of my career and life.
“Globally these kids have so many things to share in common. It’s get kids together from different areas,” Light aid. “It’s not something they just struggle with in Tennessee, here in Ohio or wherever. That’s kind of the unique part of what we do. The support we get here and elsewhere serves a lot of kids. It makes a big impact.”
Serving the 350 race participants was a sea of volunteers making the day a huge success for a very appreciative Matt Light.
“There are three people that are the workhorses behind this. We have so many volunteers, and I can’t do them all justice,” Light said. “One person that I can’t not mention is Leslie Gunckel. This was her baby from the beginning. She’s the one gets everything done and keeps everybody on track.
“We have Brian Rehmert, our facilities coordinator. Nick Schuckman handles all our programing and other roles,” Light added. “Those three are the heart and soul of what we do here with this event. There are a lot of other volunteers, but those three in particular have been absolutely incredible.”
Volunteers are always welcome to help maintain the 600-acre facility and help with the events by going to www.mattlight72.com for information.
“On our website we have all kind of information,” Light said. “Send us your information or join our mailing list. We have our trail tribe days where people come out and help us. It’s 600 acres to maintain. Our website is the best way to tap in and join up.”
“We do a number of different programs,” Facilities Coordinator Nick Schuckman said. “We have a turkey hunt that we do with kids; we have a couple different scholarships that we give. Our big thing is our main leadership camp. We work with different sets of kids and different cities throughout the entire nation. We follow them for all four years of high school and work with them.
“We have a Greenville Goal-Getter program that works on health and nutritional and physical activities with the kids,” Schuckman said. “We are always looking at other programs that we are going to start up. Anyway we can reach out and help these kids we are out there doing it.”