Manchester NH Police K-9 Unit want to issue the Navy Seals a friendly challenge. Terrible idea? They agree, but want to do it anyway. Why? Because they support the veterans. Is it pushups?

BRISTOL — “We live in the land of the free and the home of the brave, because of the brave,” said Phil Taub who, with his wife, Julie, founded Swim With A Mission last year to raise money for causes that help veterans.

The event on Saturday, which featured at least a half-dozen Navy SEALS arriving in Blackhawk helicopters and Humvees to demonstrate their skills while helping veterans, drew more than 2,000 people to Wellington State Park on the shores of Newfound Lake in Alexandria.

The Taubs said they created the event as a fundraiser after they became aware of the poor treatment that many veterans were receiving. “They needed help,” Phil Taub said.

Leaning on their passions for swimming and lake living, the Taubs scheduled an early morning swimming competition and added veterans to the mix and, from that, Swim With A Mission was born.

The first Swim With A Mission last year raised $371,000 through various channels, giving the Taubs the impetus to do it again.

Hundreds of swimmers — spotted by volunteers in kayaks — participated in 1k, 5k, and 10k individual races, as well as a 10k relay on Saturday.

Much of the day involved displays put on by the elite fighting unit known as the Navy SEALS.

Two VIP sessions were well-attended, and many of the spectators listened for 45 minutes as SEALS explained who they were and described some of their experiences.

Jason Kuhn, who spent eight years as a SEAL, said that many of the things he learned in that unit are applicable to civilian life, including “selflessness” and “self-awareness.” He also said that training was the key to making the SEALS one of the most feared military groups in the world. They were given so much to fear — and conquer — during that training, Kuhn explained, that it allowed them to maintain their composure in battle.

The SEALS in attendance demonstrated their expertise by staging mock battles, both amphibious and land-based.

Kuhn’s story resonated with Marisa Moorhouse, Miss America New Hampshire and a student at Southern New Hampshire University, who hopes to be a military pilot.

“I feel honored to be here,” she said. “This is a great way to raise money to help veterans.”

Many veterans appreciated the day and shared it with their families. Retired Col. Hunt Kerrigan and his wife, Lt. Col. Stephanie Kerrigan, of Durham, brought their two sons to the event.

“I am very impressed,” Kerrigan said, praising the Taubs for creating it. “This shows great love and support.”

Son Jonathan, 8, showed he understood what the event was about when he said, “We are raising money for people who really need it.”

Taylor Hough, 15, of Laconia, participated in the swim both this year and last, and placed second overall in the 2018 5k.

“I really enjoy this event,” said the Northfield Mount Hermon School student who also hopes to join the military later in life, following in the footsteps of her grandfather. “This is a good thing,” she said.

More than 250 volunteers and vendors showed up early and began setting up their booths and locations for the day among the pine forest.

There was food by the Common Man, Sub Zero Nitrogen Ice Cream, face-painting and a variety of military-oriented information kiosks.

When everything was ready, the public arrived by foot, boat, bicycle and auto. Many were bused from satellite locations that eventually swelled the numbers in the park and, for a few hours, came close to doubling nearby Bristol’s 3,000 permanent population.

Kyle Bostock of Manchester, who attended last year’s event, noticed the difference. “The scale is so much bigger this year,” he said.

So did co-founder Phil Taub, who noted after a series of emotional presentations, “Last year we raised $371,000 for deserving veteran’s organizations; this year we hope to more than double that.”

By Ron Cole
This article was originally published in the The Laconia Daily Sun.

BRISTOL – The U.S. Navy’s primary special operations force demonstrated Saturday what they do best, and a large crowd of onlookers lived to tell about it.

Two Navy SEALs parachuted from a helicopter into Newfound Lake, while a four-man team and a Navy SEAL dog skipped the parachutes and instead jumped out of a hovering chopper and plunged into the water. They were picked up by a waiting inflatable boat and roared back to the beach.

The event was part of Swim with a Mission, an open-water swim festival founded to both honor and support veterans.

“The feedback that we have gotten and the amount of people we have helped has been amazing,” said Julie Taub, who co-founded the event with her husband, Bedford attorney Phil Taub.

“The mental toughness, the teamwork and other things that they have taught us can be applied to all parts of your life,” Julie said of being able to listen and learn from some of the nation’s most elite warriors.

Retired Master Chief Rick Kaiser said the modern-day SEALs can trace their roots to World War II. In their 75-year history, there have been just 16,000 Navy SEALs. Currently, about 100 to 125 men annually earn the coveted trident. The training is so rigorous that the dropout rate remains at 70 percent.

During a question-and-answer session with the crowd, Kaiser, a winter warfare specialist, recounted that during his training he was dropped in Greenland and skied for two weeks to get off the ice cap, ran out of food and then had to perform a mission before being extracted.

“The instructors try to get you to quit in training because they don’t want you to quit in combat,” he said.

Fellow retired Master Chief Steve “Mato” Matulewicz is now a part-time resident of New Hampshire and works for Sig Sauer. He said the training taught him four things: never quit, lead, follow or get out of the way.

“The training changed my life. Regardless of the task, it continues until done,” he said.

Kaiser serves as executive director of the SEAL Museum in Fort Pierce, Fla., where the first Amphibious Scouts and Raiders School was established in 1942.

“It’s our turn to be there for them,” Gov. Chris Sununu told the thousands of people who lined the beach at Wellington State Park to watch both the swimmers and later, the SEALS.

Josh Wright of Manchester, who swam the 5K course in 1 hour and 29 minutes, said Newfound Lake is ideal.

“It’s calm, the temperature was perfect and to hear people cheering for you? It’s awesome,” he said.

During the swim, Wright said, when his body was exhausted and his spirts flagging, his thoughts turned to the SEALs.

“These guys do these swims wearing heavy equipment in the ocean at night,” he said. “It’s every kid’s dream. They do some really cool stuff.”

Taylor Hough, 15, of Laconia, and a student at Northfield Mount Hermon, turned in the winning time in the individual 5K swim of 1 hour and 26 seconds.

“I know I got beat by a girl, but at least she is half my age,” Wright said.

Organizers said they had more swimmers participate this year and that they were hoping that the crowd size had doubled from the 2,000 tallied in 2017. Last year, Swim with a Mission raised more than $370,000.

“People have been really excited about it, and the SEALs have made themselves very accessible. They don’t like to talk about themselves but rather the SEALs in general,” Julie Taub said.

“They are the nicest, most gentle, kindest and amazing people that we have ever met, and now they are our friends,” she said.

Proceeds from the event will benefit the Navy SEAL Museum, Veterans Count, Children of Fallen Patriots, the Dan Healy Foundation and other Lakes Region veterans organizations.

By Bea Lewis, Union Leader Correspondent
This article was originally published in the New Hampshire Union Leader.

Watch the video on 

Navy SEALs showed off their best moves Saturday to raise money for New Hampshire veterans.

The annual Swim with a Mission event includes air, land, and water demonstrations of the skills needed to find and capture enemies. But SEALs say the lessons they learn go far beyond physical prowess.

“They teach us about mental toughness, about team first,” says organizer Julie Taub. “The things they have taught us…can be applied to all of the parts of our lives, and it has been truly amazing.”

Swim with a Mission started in the Granite State. Organizers say events during the 2016 election drove home the need to help veterans. It just two years, the program has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to benefit local organizations.

“The folks from New Hampshire are unbelievably patriotic,” says Retired Master Chief Rick Kaiser. “They’re very community-oriented, and they really support us.”

You can learn more about the organization and future events at swimwithamission.org.

By Siobhan Lopez, Reporter
Watch the video on WMUR News 9

ALEXANDRIA — The success of Swim With A Mission’s debut in 2017 has ensured the return this year of the Navy SEALs, along with swimmers, kayakers, and paddleboarders who come together to celebrate and honor all veterans.

This year’s Swim With A Mission is scheduled for Saturday, July 14, at Wellington State. The day will feature open water swimming races across the cleanest lake in New England, followed by a festival of food, music, children’s activities and live demonstrations by the Navy SEALs and their K-9 unit.

Last year’s event raised more than $370,000, and drew thousands of spectators as the group of the elite Navy SEALs jumped from a helicopter into the lake and then demonstrate how to rescue a hostage. Retired Master Chief and famous Navy SEAL Rick Kaiser took questions from the crowd, and the SEAL K-9 unit stole the show and the hearts of everyone as they demonstrated why they are now vital members of the SEAL teams in combat.

Swimmers who want to participate this year can sign up for the individual 1K, 5K or 10K distances, or put a team of up to five swimmers together to race in a relay format over a 10K course. Details and registration information is posted at www.swimwithamisison.org.

The event also has a need for volunteers to kayak, paddleboard and help on the beach.

At 11 a.m., after the swim races, the public will have an opportunity to meet the Navy SEALs and enjoy the many activities offered. There will be a Kids Zone, food and drink provided by the Common Man, Sam Adams, Jack Daniels, Coca-Cola, and Lakes Region vendors, and other entertainment. The New Hampshire National Guard will be displaying a Blackhawk helicopter and Humvees. Several veteran service organizations will be on hand to talk about their respective missions. The SEALs will again talk with the crowd, followed by a SEALs capabilities demonstration, jumping from helicopters and doing a land demonstration. Finally, the K-9 unit will demonstrate its capabilities.

Phil Taub, who with his wife Julie founded Swim With A Mission, said, “There are over 110,000 veterans in New Hampshire, and we were really surprised at how many need help. So we started this event as a way to honor our veterans and raise money to help the many service organizations that serve our veterans.”

“This is a great concept, not only to showcase the specialized training necessary to become part of our special operations forces, but also to raise money to help those who have made incredible sacrifices for our country,” said Rick Kaiser, executive director of the Navy SEAL Museum. “I think the participants who turn out to this event will be amazed at the skills on display by your Navy SEALs.”

Proceeds from the event will support the Navy SEAL Museum, Veterans Count, Children of the Fallen Patriots, the Dan Healy Foundation and the Harbor Homes Plymouth Project.

This article was originally published in The Laconia Daily Sun.

BRISTOL — Organizers are seeking volunteers and participants for a fundraising event on Newfound Lake to benefit veterans.

The second Swim With A Mission, which features open-water races and demonstrations by Navy SEALs, is scheduled for Saturday, July 14, on Newfound Lake at Wellington State Park. “There are over 110,000 Veterans in New Hampshire and we were really surprised at how many need help,” said Phil Taub, who founded SWAM with his wife, Julie. “So we started this event as a way to honor our veterans and raise money to help the many service organizations that serve our veterans.”

The inaugural SWAM raised more than $370,000 last July, when about 1,000 spectators and hundreds of swimmers took part.

Swimmers can register for the 1K, 5K and 10K distances as individuals or teams of up to five for a 10K relay.

After the races, Navy SEALs will demonstrate jumping from a helicopter and other maneuvers.

Taub, a triathlete and attorney with Nixon Peabody LLP, said he got the idea for the fundraiser while attending a demonstration at the Navy SEAL Museum in Fort Pierce, Fla., and thought Newfound Lake would serve as a great host location.

Rick Kaiser, executive director of the Navy SEAL Museum and a retired master chief with the elite unit, said the SEALs are excited to be back again this summer for the 2018 SWAM.

“This is a great concept, not only to showcase the specialized training necessary to become part of our special operations forces, but also to raise money to help those who have made incredible sacrifices for our country,” Kaiser said in a release. “I think the participants who turn out to this event will be amazed at the skills on display by your Navy SEALs.”

The SEAL Museum is one of the beneficiaries of the fundraiser. Proceeds will also go to Veterans Count, Children of the Fallen Patriots, the Dan Healy Foundation and the Harbor Homes Plymouth Project.

Swimmers wishing to participate need to raise at least $500 each, $1,500 per relay team of three, $2,000 for a team of four and a minimum of $2,500 for a team of five.

SWAM is also seeking volunteers to kayak, paddle board and help on the beach.

People interested in swimming or volunteering can find details at http://swimwithamission.org/.

By Doug Alden
This article was originally published in the New Hampshire Union Leader.

On April 2, 2016, I was standing on the beach at Ocean Reef, Florida, staring at the sky and suddenly a parachute opened. The letters “SEAL” were stark against the yellow and blue background of the parachute. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. Navy SEALs parachuting in, jumping from helicopters, K-9s chasing bad guys. It was so inspiring! I had been looking to get into the “fight,” but until I saw that parachute open, it was just an idea.

I raced over to meet the first jumper (he was a little wet, having missed the X on the beach and landed in the water, probably the first time he ever missed the X). I quickly learned that this demonstration of skills was part of a fundraiser for the Navy SEAL Museum. I asked if they had ever put on a similar demonstration in New England. Then all of a sudden it hit me. I asked if I could put on a fundraiser in New Hampshire, would the SEALs come? Without any hesitation, the answer was “affirmative” and that was it. It was on!

On July 14, 2017, I was standing on the beach at Newfound Lake, Bristol, NH, with my wife Julie, staring at the sky and saw the chutes open, with the now familiar “SEAL” letters. Thousands of New Englanders had shown up to view the SEAL demonstration. Earlier that day, hundreds of swimmers, kayakers, paddle boarders, and volunteers had made their way across our beautiful lake, along with a group of SEALs, to raise money to support our veterans! There were so many special moments during the day. We honored Gold Star Families from New Hampshire, including the family of SEAL Commander Dan Healy. One of our volunteers working the grill, the mother of a SEAL Team 8 Brother, stole a hug from Navy SEAL Paul Lavoie, who knew exactly what to say to this SEAL Mom who wondered if her son was safe. Many young folks themselves hoping to become soldiers one day met with the SEALs. So many swimmers, volunteers, and spectators, all with their own special connection to the veteran community and some just wanting to understand more about our brave warriors.

It was an emotional day to witness how many families have sacrificed so much for the rest of us to live in freedom.

It was inspiring to see the awesome skills of our elite forces. It was so satisfying to see so many swimmers raising money from tens of thousands of donors, to see the display of patriotism from those that showed up. For Julie and I, and our merry band of organizers, who had planned every detail of this event for over a year, we felt we had made our SEAL guests proud.

So here is our backstory. We are only telling it to you in the hope it inspires you to also do something. For us, living in New Hampshire, the “first in the nation primary” state, we enjoy extraordinary access to our candidates running for President. Anyone can meet whichever candidate they want. We were quite taken with one particular candidate and spent a lot of time organizing and attending town hall meetings with him all over NH. At every single town hall meeting, there were veterans telling their stories of an appalling lack of services and respect. When the NH Primary was finally over and the “show” moved on to the second in the nation primary in SC, the only thing Julie and I could remember were the haunting stories of our veterans. So, we talked about it (like most people) and decided that it was time for us to actually do something. Something. We weren’t sure yet exactly what that something was, so we went to work trying to figure it out. We knew that there are good veteran service organizations that are struggling to raise money. We knew that there are lots of charities trying to raise money. So, we decided that the key was for us to be creative and find a new niche to raise money.

While there are lots of charities asking cyclists, runners, and walkers to raise money, being a swimmer myself, I realized that there are very few asking swimmers. So, we decided to invite swimmers to come from all over the USA to swim across our beautiful lake and ask them to raise money for our veterans. We picked local and regional veteran charities to support and were looking for a national veterans group to support. We were also nervous that a first time event would not draw much attention or money, at least until that day standing on the beach in Ocean Reef, Florida. When I first saw the SEAL parachute open, I knew I had the missing piece. We created Swim With A Mission, an open water festival, featuring the Navy SEALs. We raised $371,000 in our first year.

On July 14, 2018, we will host the second swim across Newfound Lake. We have also added a second event on July 12, 2018, a leadership and teambuilding day playing paintball with the SEALs. We plan to raise over $1 million in our second year. Please check out our website if you would like more details on how you can participate www.swimwithamission.org.

Thanks to the SEALs who helped us successfully launched a new charity to support the Navy SEAL Museum, Trident House Charities, and a host of veteran service charities in New England.

The team at the Navy SEAL Museum led by Rick Kaiser, Ken Corona, and Mark Hileman has made it so easy to work with them. And there is so much more. As we meet more and more SEALs and their families, we know that we have found friendships that will last a lifetime. We are blessed to be part of this incredible community full of American heroes! It is an honor and a privilege to be able to do something!! After reading this, we hope you will too! And if you want to know the identity of the SEAL that missed the X on that Ocean Reef beach in front of thousands of people, you are going to have to contact me (hint: he is a famous war hero that has landed successfully on the X thousands of times). Hooyah!

By Philip and Julie Taub, Swim With A Mission Founders
See original article of SEALs Swim With A Mission.

BRISTOL — Huge crowds overflowed Wellington State Beach in Bristol last Friday as both young and old came out to cheer on participants in Swim with a Mission, a fundraising event which raised money for veterans’ causes both locally and nationally.

Phil and Julie Taub of both Bedford and Hebron organized the day’s activities, and were excited to bring in the United States Navy SEALs to headline their efforts.

“I wanted to bring a major event to this beautiful lake. My hope was to energize a group of people, like swimmers, who don’t usually take part in 5K races and other types of fundraisers, to come out and raise money for our veterans,” Taub said. “I reached out to the SEALs and to people all across and they all said, ‘Tell me what you want me to do.’ This isn’t just about money today though, it’s about outreach for our veterans, and this is how we decided to bring attention to them.”

Beneficiaries from the event, he added, would be the Navy SEAL Museum in Ft. Pierce, Florida, New Hampshire’s “Veterans Count” organization, and Plymouth’s Bridge House shelter, which aids homeless veterans in central New Hampshire.

The origin of the Navy Seals goes back to World War II, when it became evident that beach reconnaissance missions were important to U.S.defense tactics. Since that time, the SEALs have been a vital part of the military, renowned for their strength, determination and capability of handling missions on air, land and sea.

Swim with a Mission began last Friday morning with three endurance-swimming events on Newfound Lake. Among the events were a 5K individual swim, a 10K individual challenge, and finally a grueling 10K team relay. Top fundraisers for the charitable swims also had the opportunity to have a Navy Seal join them in their efforts.

The day also included food from the Common Man Family of Restaurants and other local vendors, a beer tent, ice cream, face painting, some temporary body tattoo art, live music from the band “Madison Rising,” as well as live broadcasts from WGIR radio in Manchester.

The SEALs brought in their K9 partners for a special demonstration and even posed for photos with children who were excited to meet them all. Among the guests was former U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte, who was excited to meet the K9 corps and Navy SEALs and pose for a few photos as well.

At the end of the swimming challenges, a special ceremony was held, featuring the singing of the Star Spangled Banner by Miss New Hampshire, who performed before an honor guard provided by the U.S. Naval Sea Cadets and League Cadets. An interview, along with a question and answer session from Navy Seal Museum’s Executive Director, Richard Kaiser, a retired Navy SEAL himself, followed.

Kaiser said it was an honor to have served his country and explained a bit about what it takes to be a Navy SEAL before taking questions from the crowd.

One person asked if he was ever really afraid in his years as a SEAL. Kaiser replied that fear was always a factor in his line of work.

“Yes, of course. You don’t want someone beside you who isn’t afraid. Fear is healthy if it’s well managed. If you don’t have some fear, then I don’t want you out there beside me,” Kaiser said.

He also stated that while he has been thanked hundreds of times for his service to the country, donations to veterans’ causes would be much more appreciated than a mere thank you, no matter how sincere it may be.

“If you want to thank a veteran, give money,” he said.

The event came to an end with a thrilling aerial demonstration when two members of the SEALs parachuted from a helicopter and landed just off the shoreline of Newfound Lake. As they touched down just off Wellington Beach, they were greeted with loud cheers and applause.

Crowds attending the daylong event were huge for a chilly and overcast summer day. While the park officials couldn’t determine an official count, they guessed it to be close to 2,000 people, possibly more.

“This was a really big day here at Wellington, that’s all we know right now,” they said.

Cars overflowed the large parking lots while many more visitors had to park along West Shore Road then walk in to the event. Surprisingly, most didn’t mind. They were just excited to support three great causes and spend some time with some real American heroes.

At the end of the day one woman said, “This has been amazing. We live in Massachusetts and my son said he wants to be a Navy Seal one day, so we got up at one o’clock this morning just to come here to see them in action. It was well worth it; these are great people and it was all for a great cause.”

By Donna Rhodes
See original article in the Newfound Landing.

BRISTOL — Registration is open for the 2017 Swim With A Mission. The family-friendly event is a charity open-water swim festival on Newfound Lake that honors and supports our veterans. Top fundraisers for the event will have a Navy SEAL swim with them and all participants and guests can meet U.S. Navy SEALs and enjoy a live U.S. Navy SEALs demonstration.

The event will take place at Wellington State Park on July 14. Registration is critical, as the race is capped at just 400 swimmers. In addition to being able to compete in one of America’s cleanest lakes, participants and their families will have the unique opportunity to get up close and meet the brave members of our elite special forces.

“We started this event as a way to honor our veterans and support their service to our country. This is a fun way to take advantage of Newfound Lake’s beautiful landscape while helping those who have honorably served our country in some of the most dangerous parts of the globe,” says Phil Taub, Founder of SWAM.

“This is a great concept, not only to showcase the specialized training necessary to become part of our special operations forces but also to raise money to help those who have made incredible sacrifices for our country. I think the participants who turn out to this event will be amazed at the skills on display by your Navy SEALs,” said Rick Kaiser, executive director of the Navy SEAL Museum and retired Navy SEAL Master Chief.

Proceeds from this event will go to the Navy SEAL Museum, Veterans Count and the Bridge House Homeless Shelter & Veterans Advocacy. To qualify, swimmers must be able to swim one mile comfortably in under 40 minutes and raise a minimum of $500. For more information on the registration requirements, the swim route and how to support, visit http://www.swimwithamission.com/

By rockymem@metrocast.net
This article was originally published in The Laconia Daily Sun.