LAKEWAY, Texas (KXAN) — A group of 8th- and 9th-grade students are training to run an obstacle race later this month to raise money for a retired Navy SEAL who’s now battling cancer.
The group’s founders started the nonprofit Battle Brothers last fall when they were in 8th grade. It’s grown in size since then, and now current 8th graders train and run with the Lake Travis High School freshmen.
“Because we love running so much, it was something that we did every weekend,” co-founder Adan Doss said. “And why not fuel that into a better environment?”
Instead of choosing a foundation to raise money for, the kids wanted to pick individuals, causes where they could see the impact they were having.
“Then we go out and choose a race, and we go from there. We start training for that race,” Doss said. “Then we run the race and go to the next group, the next mission.”
Battle Brothers have run two previous races. The first, a long-distance trail run in Bandera, Texas, outside San Antonio, raised money for a foundation in memory of a Texas woman living in Virginia who police say was killed by her boyfriend.
The second fundraiser, completed earlier this year, was a 24-hour relay marathon on the trails near their homes in Lakeway. That run brought in $5,000 for a North Texas single mother who was in a bad accident and couldn’t afford her medical bills.
The group trains once a week, working around football practice, track and school work. Their next run will be the Spartan Sprint in Dallas in late October.
The money the teenagers raise will go toward medical bills accrued by Stephen “Turbo” Toboz, a combat-wounded Navy SEAL vet now living in Virginia. Toboz is fighting stage 3 cancer, getting treatment in Texas.
The group aims to raise $10,000 to support his treatment. You can contribute to the fundraiser here.
“We want to be able to honor him,” said Tanor Offel, a LTHS freshman and co-founder of the group.
His dad, Kirk Offel, also a veteran, found Toboz through his connections with the Austin-based SEAL Legacy Foundation, a nonprofit that supports wounded and fallen SEALs and their families. That group put the Battle Brothers in touch with Toboz, and the students started training.
“They’re pushing it hard, these kids,” Kirk Offel said.
The current mission resonates strongly with his son. “My dad went through cancer,” Tanor said, “and medical bills are pretty expensive, so we’re just doing as much as we can to help.”
It was his fight with sarcoma, a cancer that produces tumors in connective tissue, that led Kirk Offel to long-distance obstacle runs in the first place. “There was a time in my life where I was online shopping for new legs and figuring out what I was going to do with the rest of my life,” he said. When he came through it, he started bringing his kids with him on runs.
Now they’re outpacing him and running for their own reasons.
“It’s a feeling that you can never get used to,” Tanor Offel said of running to raise money, “because it’s just so special.”
“It helps us realize what we’re really supposed to be doing,” he added. “And how we should be helping others instead of breaking them down.”