Magic Lasso

September 2, 2015

It’s Wednesday, and a few days after the Avery Tough Weekend. I wanted to give myself a few days to really let the memories from the event sink in. So many folks were involved in making a success, and many have their own cherished moments that will forever make Avery Tough one of the best lifetime experiences ever.

After the successful Arden Tough Event last year, we had moved almost half-way into this year with plenty of you being very ancy to help another family. I was right there with you. As time had progressed, our initial target was difficult to line up. The Gallardo Family simply wasn’t in the right space to allow for proper communication. To this day, they are still a concern for us, and I know Ed and a few others are still working to ensure they are OK. Too many of our military families fall through the cracks, too many are de-prioritized against other bureaucratic agendas. So we are still on watch…ready to go at moment’s notice.

Cadre Rich became aware of the battle Avery was enduring through internal communications at 1SFG. It is a tight family (as we should all expect) and it really is amazing that we went from helping a young boy named Arden, to now getting the opportunity to help a young girl named Avery. It was simply meant to be.


Photo Courtesy of Rachel Reyes

A few months back I had the opportunity to meet with the Western US GORUCK Admin – Cadre Joel, and Cadre Rich, in Tacoma to discuss future event planning for the Pacific Northwest. Being one of the largest training mechanisms for GORUCK Events, TRVLSQD is a source of experience for GORUCK, and will continue to support GR events. During our discussion, Cadre Rich mentioned that he wanted to have a weekend of events to help support not only Avery, but the Green Beret Foundation as well. Cadre Joel agreed and GORUCK would be the vehicle to drive this idea. The ideas then evolved into having a night similar to GORUCK’s famed WSFB or WAR STORIES & FREE BEER. Eventually, Rich conceptualized that a 1SFG specific WSFB – located at the 1SFG Compound on JBLM – would be the best way to kick-off the event weekend.

TALES from the TEAM was born.

Communication lines were opened between Cadre Rich and the Reyes Family. To let a bunch of “dysfunctional wonderfuls” into your family is something no one expects to do – especially within the tight-knit Special Forces community. I’m not sure how those initial conversations went, although something tells me that Rich’s wife Julia may have helped smooth that transition!

GORUCK stepped in and created the weekend format. TRVLSQD would run TALES from the TEAM with 1SFG. GORUCK would run the AVERY TOUGH Scavenger and GORUCK Firearms Day on Saturday and Sunday. We had all the ingredients for a kick-ass weekend. Well almost…

Securing a venue would be the first challenge to overcome. We had discussed a few different locations, and we all agreed – this needed to be somewhere at 1SFG. With all of the hoops we had to jump through last year for Arden Tough (yeah it was a bit different – something about civilians firing weapons on a military installation I guess raises a few eye-brows), I knew this wouldn’t be a simple ask/task. Then again when you have Cadre Ed on the Team, your anxiety is substantially less (not eliminated – substantially reduced.) Ed assured me that he would have the venue secured. I had complete faith that it would get done (I think I had a beer when Ed called and said he had the signed paperwork in hand.)


Photo Courtesy of MSG Ed Hall

During the planning stages, Cadre Rich was pulled away to go spread freedom throughout the world, and as we anxiously awaited his safe return, Ed and I kept pushing on all fronts. He started the process of finding who our speakers were going to be that night.

How do you convince a Green Beret – someone who’s family time is extremely valuable – to come hang out with some civilians and talk about what Special Forces is all about, and what it means to be part of a Team?

Beer bribe?

I’m sure that although Cadre Ed would lead all of us to believe it was a difficult task, something tells me that once the real reason was revealed, once they understood that it was to help one of their own, to help a child fighting a serious battle, I don’t think it was hard at all. It merely became a matter of timing and coordinating schedules.

In the midst of this all, I received a call from someone who I’ve had the pleasure of watching suffer through some past GORUCK events. His name was Chris Cordova. The last time he made me smile was watching him eat 2 cans of SPAM before enduring the gauntlet being thrown down by Cadre from all walks within the special operations community. Chris has his own way of communicating, something that you only have to experience to believe!

Chris wanted to introduce me to a special group of folks that selflessly raises money for various causes. He had already experienced the Arden Tough Event, and knew that this group could help. He told me they were called the THE HATE PROJECT.


The what?

To say this one caught me by surprise was an understatement. It took a bit of a conversation for Chris to explain to me what they were about. Even though he did his best, I still had the uneasy feeling of “huh”? They say first perceptions are everything, and some say to not judge a book by its cover. I was fighting both on this one. Chris arranged for me to have a phone conversation with one of the group admin. His name is Paul.

Paul and I spoke for about an hour and a half over what my Team – TRVLSQD – continues to do, helping families within 1SFG. He explained to me what the HP was about, how it started, and how it too continues to help people everywhere. We both connected on that passionate level – the one where you know someone is definitely going in the same direction you were. Paul said he would arrange to host a raffle in the HP group in August. He would coordinate running it, with Chris and I the support elements. In reality, I was invited to take a front-row seat to watch the power of the HATE PROJECT.

The what?

It’s fun having to explain what these wonderful people are really all about. First, my Team can’t spell (what does travel-squid mean?) and now I’m involved with a HATE Group. That’s great…

August rolls around and Cadre Rich is back from his Freedom Field Trip, Cadre Ed has secured the venue and almost the speakers, and it was in fact time to run the Avery Raffle in the HP. Paul told us it would run 48 hours, and he would ensure all of the funds would be directly sent to us on behalf of the HP. Funds destined to help Avery. Chris has already witnessed what they are capable of; I was along for the ride. I have to give them both credit – they were more than patient with me when I asked what a “dog-pile” was, or who was keeping track of “this going to them” and all of the craziness of what happened. Paul had his goal for the raffle. “If we get that – damn that would be amazing” is what I said to myself.

Underpromise – Overdeliver.

I guess the HP plays by its own rules, because I simply couldn’t believe what I was watching. People who had no idea who I was, or who Avery was, had donated money because HELPING OTHERS is the only reason to exist. It is the founding idea of TRVLSQD. And these folks “throw smoke” and sprinkle “HATE-Dust” on lives across the country.


The HATE Project collected $6,050 in a little over 48 hours. It’s an experience I’ll never forget, and a group of people I’m honored to have been introduced to (never met, at least not yet) and now call a part of my Team, my Family. It is simply the beginning of my LOVE/HATE for the HP.

The week was upon us, and things were now going at hyper speed. Patches, shirts, patches, itineraries, all of it was happening! Friday the 28th couldn’t come any faster!


Then it did.

Me: “Alright Rachel, no one knows except a few folks that your family will be there that night. Just stay in touch with me throughout the process. And if I post something on FB about Skyping you so folks can see/hear Avery, just play right along.”

Rachel: “This is the hardest secret to keep ~ and the best one ever! I’ll text you when we land. We’ll go get some dinner, relax for a few, let Avery settle, and then come on over to the compound.”

Me: “Fantastic.”

The Pre-Event meeting was held at the Matador in downtown Tacoma with all of the heads-of-state present – Chris, Rocco, Brian Lohr from All-Day Ruckoff, Seth, Leah, and Frank. Planning went so well that at one point the waitress toasted a beer mug with Chris (…or was she trying to pass it to him and he reached out to toast her?). It was a sign of things to come…

Off to COSTCO.


Nothing like waiting forever at the Visitor Center for a pass…..mmmmm…mmmm…good!

I arrived at the secure location about 15 minutes or so before we were supposed to start. The smiles were huge, the hugs were real, and the bar was EPIC!!!! I was finally starting to relax because we were now in full swing. Everything was set. It was time to begin.

This event is about one thing – FAMILY. We had all come together to help a child. We also came together because OF FAMILY. One of our own, Joel Seymour, had just lost his mother a few days prior to cancer (that f*cking disease). As he traveled across the country to honor the life of his mom, we too stood at the ready to support him. I don’t like to give that toast, and will do so if necessary.

“Thank you for bringing us Joel, Pat Seymour. Rest in Peace”

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Mike was our 1st speaker, Arden’s father. He was dressed to the nines, and it was an honor to see him. Arden was having a challenging day, and was in the hospital as we spoke. After Mike spoke, he exited to go be with Arden. We all sent strength Arden’s way…..still do!


Photo Courtesy of David Thomas Productions

The night continued with our speakers. Well almost…..


I went outside as darkness began to fall, and there they were…there she was.

Rachel: “Avery, do you know who that is?”

Avery: “Hi Fergalicious!”


Photo Courtesy of David Thomas Productions

She came over and gave me a hug. And I melted. This child who teased me from afar with her “Hi Fergalicious” videos was now hugging me. In that moment all of the hard work truly meant the world to me. And it was hard to hold back the excitement.


Photo Courtesy of David Thomas Productions

The Reyes Family arrived and we gathered everyone on one side of the room, and with a warm welcome, she walked in. No one, except the few, knew they would be there, and we were all witness to a 4-year old Rockstar, our very own Wonder Woman! The gifts bestowed upon her were merely our way of thanking her for fighting, for never giving up.


Photo Courtesy of David Thomas Productions

The evening continued after Avery was done signing autographs and taking pictures, and the stories that were told by CW3 Mike Scheper, CW3 Mikey Beavens, and 1SG Michael Hunter left us all in awe. The true humanity that exists in each one of them – the desire to change the world one mission at a time – alongside their Brothers, made me love my own Team that much more. It was a privilege to listen to them, an honor to have them open their hearts to a bunch of strangers. There were tales told that may never be spoken of again. Maybe….


Photo Courtesy of David Thomas Productions

“I may not be the big buff guy that some of you may have expected of a Green Beret, but I have endurance…..LOTS OF IT!”

Isaac walked to the front of the room, and invited us into his world. The world of his upbringing, how he became inspired to be one of the best, how he was told he couldn’t and did anyways, how he became part of the 1SFG Brotherhood, and most of all – the circumstances surrounding his daughter Avery. Isaac spoke of a love for a child, the passion that runs through all parents, and a fire that burns within him to do whatever is necessary to help his daughter Avery.


Photo Courtesy of David Thomas Productions

And while Avery slept on Rachel’s lap, Isaac reached a point where it was now time to honor her.


Photo Courtesy of Rachel Reyes

We presented the Reyes Family our support funds, and the technical aspect to our mission for Avery was complete, and now the fun would begin:

  • Closing of the Green Beret Foundation Silent Auction
  • Selling De Espresso Liber – the Avery Tough Blend
  • Shoving cash in Isaacs hands
  • I’m supposed to hand over this steamy romance novel to who?
  • Rubbing my eyes from seeing Ed in that shirt
  • Watching Son run away with my Special Forces Crest
  • Forgetting about all of the beer left behind the bar counter
  • Remembering that GORUCK Scavenger starts in 6 or so hours


Photo Courtesy of David Thomas Productions


And so we all went home that night, hearts filled from witnessing it all. Some of us would continue on into GORUCK Scavenger the next morning, some into GORUCK Firearms Day on Sunday. Although points were kept throughout Scavenger, we were all winners that day. As part of Team BrAvery, I was able to talk for hours to Isaac & Rachel, to Pam & Avery’s best friend Lea, and of course Avery. To simply walk with them and learn about their lives was truly a blessing.

Tacoma was hit that day with a wicked wind-storm, one that we had not seen in quite some time. By then end of the weekend, two people (an adult and one child) will have lost their lives to falling debris. In the midst of all of our joy, our hearts went out to those families too.

I know this may have been a long read. Funny thing is I’ve missed so many details because so much of it became a blur. That’s what happens when you are overloaded with so many great experiences!

Avery will begin some treatments for three weeks at St. Jude’s Hospital in Memphis, TN. Something tells me that Tennessee isn’t too far away from the reaches of all of us.

I’ll definitely see your smiley face next summer and thank you for wrapping all our hearts with your magic lasso:)


Photo Courtesy of David Thomas Productions

~Fergalicious out..

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