Foundation works to honor warriors locally, nationally


Alex Connor/Iowa State Daily

Runners get prepared to start the first Warrior Leader’s Foundation 5k in honor of all servicemen and women across the country. The event took place Saturday morning and lasted about an hour.

Jessica Buss and Alex Connor

Excitement and determination filled contestants’ faces as they waited patiently on the starting line.

On Saturday morning, The Warrior Leader Foundation (TWLF) partnered with the ISU Army ROTC program to host the first-annual Warrior Leader 5K, which roughly 40 people showed up to support.

The event was free for all and started at the Southwest Athletic Complex. The route wound from State Avenue to Mortensen Road and back. All donations from the event went to TWLF.

Cadet Ben Brixius, senior in kinesiology and health, opened the event with a brief speech on how they as individuals can make a difference in their community.

“We have been working on this since the beginning of January,” Brixius said.

Brixius was assigned the 5K and has worked through the AROTC Cyclone Battalion, Iowa State and the city of Ames, along with several vendors to make sure everything ran as smoothly as possible.

TWLF, whose mission is to honor, support and unite America’s military and first responders through physical, community and social activities that embody their common warrior spirit, hopes to start its first chapter in Des Moines within the next three months.

Brandon Amerine, ISU alumnus and CEO of TWLF, worked with Dillon Burns, ISU alumnus and chief operating officer, to coordinate the 5K, which is one of the first of many events they hope to host.

TWLF was founded in late 2015 and will launch a number of national fundraising initiatives that will lead to helping “American Warrior Leaders” both financially and logistically.

An American Warrior Leader, as described by Burns, is anyone who is serving this country, whether a military personnel, police officer, firefighter, emergency medical practitioner, a first responder and the families of each group. 

“Just anybody who is putting their life on the line for the country,” Burns said.

TWLF is based out of Fayetteville, N.C., but it hopes to expand nationwide in efforts to establish connections and support linkages within the Warrior Leader community.

The funds raised through fundraising programs such as the 5K will go to the members through assistance with medical bills, livelihood or other gap areas determined critical.

Brixius gave special thanks to AROTC, TWLF, Virtual Fitness and Nutrition, Hy-Vee and everyone who came out for the 5K, including Jonathan Wickert, senior vice president and provost.

To end his speech, Brixius quoted Lt. Col. Dave Grossman’s article “On Sheep, Wolves and Sheepdogs.”

“Sheep in the community, those are people who wait for something to happen,” Brixius said. “They don’t look to the future. They don’t plan ahead [and] things can happen.

“The wolves are the people that cause the evil in the community [and] the sheepdogs are those who protect the sheep when the wolves come around.” 

Grossman stated in his article that if people want to be sheep, then they can do that and it’s OK. However, they must understand the price they pay.

“When the wolf comes, you and your loved ones may or may not be in harm’s way, die (or) get injured due to the wolf, Grossman wrote. “If there’s no sheepdog to protect you the sheep are all alone. If you want to be a wolf you can be one but the sheepdogs are gonna hunt you down and you will never have rest, safety, trust or love.”