Army Reserve Soldier becomes Tough Mudder for Wounded Warrior
July 10, 2012
Army Reserve Staff Sgt. Thomas Reneau is training hard for Tough Mudder, an extreme adventure challenge to be held in Vermont on July 15. But the Soldier assigned to the 368th Engineer Battalion in Londonberry, N.H., isn't entering to win.
Reneau has only one goal in mind and that is to compete to help raise money to benefit the Wounded Warrior Project.
Reneau has never competed in Tough Mudder before, but became hooked on the challenge when he found out WWP stood to benefit in the end. "This will be my first Tough Mudder. I know it will be challenging, but I'm ready for it," said the native of Belmont, N.H.
"The course is on a mountain with about 30 different obstacles to overcome," said Reneau. "I heard the ice water and electro shock therapy are tough. You actually get zapped."
"I've been working on my cardio and doing a lot of pull ups, but teamwork is definitely a necessity for this type of challenge. Some of the obstacles are impossible to do yourself," he said.
It didn't take much for Reneau to convince friends and family members into joining, as ultimately it's for a good cause. "The team members are my sister-in-law Kristina, my cousin Anna Offen and Talia West, who is a friend and Navy veteran."
So how did team captain Reneau and his teammates come up with their group name, the MacDaddies?
"It's in remembrance of our grandfather, Malcolm Gilman, a WWII veteran who died this past December. His name was Malcolm, but everybody called him Mac. He helped make us into the people we are today. He was a great man and we are happy and motivated to do the event in his honor," said Reneau.
Military service is certainly a proud tradition in Reneau's family heritage.
"My father served during Vietnam with the Navy. Three of my uncles served in the Army. Reneau's uncle Steve Gilman received the Purple Heart. Steve is Anna Offen's dad. My grandfather Malcolm served as a cook in WWII, my grandmother Marjorie Gilman served as a nurse during WWII, and I have one cousin serving with the Air Force."
Reneau himself joined the Army in 2003 and deployed to Iraq in 2008 and Africa in 2009. He left active duty in 2010 and joined the Army Reserve 368th Engineer Battalion, 302nd Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, 412th Theater Engineer Command.
As a member of the military, Reneau is naturally drawn to and feels a great sense of affinity with the Wounded Warrior Project.
"I know people who've been physically and emotionally impacted by war. I have a friend that has been shot. I know people who've had an amputation and I've known people who've given the ultimate sacrifice. Civilians can turn off the news when they start talking about the war. Our Soldiers can't. They live it. These are some of the reasons why I think the Wounded Warrior Project is so important. They help our warriors heal their wounds," he said.
"From private donations, vendors and family we've raised $600 so far," said Reneau. "I have started a link on facebook for donations. I'm also going to local businesses for help. A lot of family members have shared the link on facebook, so we are hoping that will help. I didn't realize how much we were helping the WWP. Now that I know do, that's pushing me even further."
"If we have to go through a little pain to help my fellow warriors gain independence, mobility and a better life, then it's worth it. I'm running for the cause."
The Tuff Mudder challenges have raised over $3 million for WWP to help severely injured American servicemen and servicewomen.