O2 has a profound respect for military service and those who serve, and we align ourselves with likeminded organizations. Big Fish Foundation (BFF) develops programs and partnerships to benefit Veterans managing post traumatic or combat stress. We proudly donated 100% of profits from sales on Veteran’s Day, 2020, to BFF and will continue to fully support its team and its mission for years to come. Our founder and CEO Dave Colina is on the board, and we’re connected to BFF by our shared values, deep roots in CrossFit, and love of O2 (no joke, they drink it).
Dave was at the 2018 CrossFit games, manning the O2 booth, when he met Big Fish founder Brian Chontosh (aka, Tosh). Tosh was there as part of the CrossFit Seminar Staff. Tosh made his way to the O2 booth several times a day for his O2 stash (see, we told ya), and the rest was history. “Tosh has a very positive vibe...he’s the type of person you want to get to know,” says Dave. “And he gives a very crisp high five.”
Dave knew that Tosh was a Marine Corps Veteran, but it took a while before he realized that Tosh is actually a highly decorated war hero with his own Wikipedia page. He did multiple tours of duty in Iraq and was awarded the Navy Cross for his courage and leadership under enemy fire in 2003, and two Bronze Stars for his actions in the second battle of Fallujah in 2004. His story is jaw-dropping and one that we recommend you read for yourself.
Going to hell and back teaches you a few things. Namely, even after the physical wounds of war heal, the psychological scars run deep. Depression, anxiety, and suicide are horrible realities for many combat veterans. Tosh is using his own experience and healing to help others through programs that:
- Use physical challenges to rebuild confidence and experience team building
- Leverage community service activities to rekindle a sense purpose and engagement in society
- Create social engagement through retreats and workshops to allow connections among those with a common background who can provide emotional support in a way that no one else can
Tosh in his own words:
“The veteran community faces massive challenges; they experience highs and lows as they transition out of the military, and often struggle silently. Veteran’s carry a tremendous sense of pride but miss some of the camaraderie and sense of purpose from their time in the service. I felt that way myself, and I suffered alone for many years. I found when I asked for help from those who knew my experience, it got me through the lowest points. That’s what Big Fish Foundation is here to do – to help those who may have suffered silently, but are now ready to ask for help, and put in the necessary work to build a more resilient life alongside those who understand.”
To hear more from Tosh about the mission of BFF, check out this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s751zVltHuY
Joining the BFF board was was a no-brainer for Dave. O2 has several veterans on its own team, and, according to Dave, “I’ve always felt a deep gratitude for the sacrifice of men and women in the armed services and that it is my duty to do everything I can support them.”
We hope that our Veteran’s Day campaign, and the profits from your purchases, help to shine a light on the amazing work of the Big Fish Foundation. At O2, we truly believe we are #strongertogether, and Tosh and his team have given us an awesome example of why.