Rifle residents to march for Wounded Warrior Project | PostIndependent.com

Rifle residents to march for Wounded Warrior Project

Alex Zorn

Rifle residents Tom Barbata and Jose Valadez will be participating in the 24-hour Ruck March in Rifle Saturday and Sunday.

Two Rifle locals hope to turn a friendly rivalry into an opportunity to raise money for charity this weekend as they participate in a 24-hour Ruck March through downtown Rifle. The goal is to raise $10,000 for the Wounded Warrior Project, with just over $5,000 raised as of Wednesday afternoon.

To donate visit goo.gl/qckb2E.

Rifle resident Tom Barbata laid the early foundation for the local march several years ago when he started doing “Selfies December,” where he would post various selfies of himself around town and working out.

He said he was really impressed by the amount of comments and likes the photos would get, so he decided to use the attention for something good.

Last year, he raised $8,000 on Facebook Live working out with various local trainers for eight hours. The year before that, he raised $4,000.

While this was going on, Rifle police officer Jose Valadez happened to run into Barbata on the street one day by chance.

Valadez said he’d heard from friends about how tough Barbata’s fitness class was. When he saw Barbata that day, he whispered to his friend, “that’s Tom, I thought he’d be bigger.”

Barbata overheard, and the friendly rivalry took off from there.

After Facebook comments back and forth, they decided to put the trash-talking aside and launched the Ruck March for charity.

Rucking involves carrying a weighted pack on your back, as done in U.S. Special Forces training, where a person controls the weight and the distance. A ruck pack can weigh anywhere from 20 to 50 pounds.

The march will proceed from Grand River Health to Deerfield Park and back along Railroad Avenue. The pair will start at 10 a.m. Saturday and finish at 10 a.m. Sunday.

Last year, Valadez did his own Selfie December and, after continuing their banter back and forth on Facebook, the two finally met again and decided to follow up their talk with Saturday’s challenge.

Barbata, a veteran of the Army from 1996-2001, has been donating to the Wounded Warrior Project since he started Selfie December and said it was a good organization for them to donate to.

The Wounded Warrior Project is one of the largest veterans service organizations in the country and serves veterans, caregivers and families of veterans who incurred a physical or mental injury or illness on or after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.


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