By Emily Sussman, ParaglideMarch 14, 2018
Capt. Christopher D. Webb, public affairs officer, 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne), stares past his immediate surroundings while speaking.
One might think it is a disconnect from his interviewer, me, but I would suggest he appears to be of a single focus, sharing his passion for helping others. He is specific, and when unsure he takes out his phone and promptly looks up an acronym or date, being sure to be detail-oriented and accurate in any statement made or date given.
Recently named one of Fayetteville's top 40 under 40 by the Fayetteville Observer, Webb sees a long list of accomplishments not just as expectations met but as goals achieved.
"I am definitely blessed," said Webb.
The Fayetteville Observer recognizes 40 of the area's top business professionals and community leaders at an awards ceremony annually, according to the Observer website. This year's celebration takes place Friday.
Webb is one of three out of 40 individuals being honored in the Army. Next to his name on the list of those being recognized it says, "All About Fitness Family." He is being honored -- not for his military service -- but for his work in the community.
AAF is a spiritually-based fitness Family seeking to encourage all to seek out fitness-related events, according to www.allaboutfitnessfamily.org.
AAF traces its origins back to 2012, when Webb was with the 70th Brigade Support Battalion, at Camp Casey, Korea.
"I simply wanted people to work out with because it was cold in Korea … I needed a little motivation to get through the Korean winter," said Webb. "So, you could say AAF started because I was cold."
Greg Carson, a retired Soldier, was one of the first five members of AAF in Korea.
Diagnosed with a connective tissue disease six months after arriving in Korea, he says that AAF and the camaraderie in the group helped him to get back into the rhythm of exercising, despite how painful it was.
"AAF played a part in saving my life," said Carson, who is currently overseeing the formation of a San Antonio, Texas chapter of the nonprofit organization.
Eventually, the winter-fitness support group began to make a name for itself and generate interest from others, and the group's numbers grew. However, having begun his service to the country as an infantryman, Military Intelligence was not for Webb.
"It was like going from the Autobahn to a crowded street on Skibo during rush hour," said Webb.
He remembers vividly the exact date he was accepted into public affairs: September 17, 2012.
In 2014, Webb arrived at Fort Bragg, and AAF took off. Webb transformed what he began in Korea into a nonprofit organization structured to help people find and maintain the best of themselves, to find their "total" fitness at no cost.
"I realized that AAF was way bigger than military Korean confines," he said.
Webb expanded AAF to include all aspects of fitness and a group that began with just five people in Korea now counts about 15,000 in its ranks across four states, according to Webb.
"If a person is not totally fit, legally, mentally, financially, spiritually, then, you can be the most in-shape person in the world and have all other types of issues. Then you don't have total fitness," explained Webb.
Growing up in Shreveport, La., the son of a 20-year Air Force veteran, Webb said he was familiar with stepping in to look after others.
As the oldest of four children, stepping up to care for his siblings in his father's absence, taught Webb to put others before himself, stay organized and helped him to understand the value of caring for others.
"It taught me that no matter what you are going through, believe it or not, helping others, you are really helping yourself," said Webb.
His sense of responsibility to others comes not only from helping look after his sister and two brothers but also from his religious upbringing.
"I think it comes down to the bible 'do unto others as you want them to do unto you. Love others as you love yourself.' I grew up devout Christian," he said.
Because of this upbringing, some of the AAF events take place in donated church space. It was at one of these church events that Melvena Moses, president, Fayetteville AAF chapter, encountered Webb and AAF. Shy, with a speech impediment when she was a child, Moses was no stranger to insecurity when she stumbled on AAF in 2016.
A single mom, struggling with her weight she describes her first work out as worse than childbirth.
"It was painful," said Moses.
Now a little over a year and a half later, and 30 pounds lighter, she is a group trainer and integral part of the Fayetteville chapter of AAF.
"Who would have thought this female, who almost tapped out in the first work out, is now a certified trainer," she said.
Webb has also recently been selected by the Army for a prestigious education opportunity and will be leaving in the spring to attend Georgetown University.
He is one of six Soldiers offered a full-ride residency to pursue a Master's in Public Relations and Corporate Communications.
But, with an all-volunteer staff Webb has planned for AAF's work to continue in his absence, and although it is an honor to be named among Fayetteville's 40 under 40, to Webb, it is just a mark of accomplishment.
"The real work starts after you continue that legacy … of community first," said Webb. "The challenge is what do you do afterward."