Community life in the Granite State for September 9, 2019.

A group of Navy SEALs poses with Swim With A Mission co-founder Phil Taub at a Paintshoot Team Building event on July 11, 2019, at OSG Paintball in Center Barnstead.

Swimmer Cheryl Alden visits with SEAL K9 Trident after completing a 5K Swim at Swim With A Mission at Wellington State Park in Bristol New Hampshire on July 13, 2019. A series of events in July — culminating with the annual swim competition and military demonstrations at the lake — raised $1 million for the National Navy SEAL Museum in Fort Pierce, Fla., as well as veterans services efforts in New Hampshire.

Retired Navy SEAL Jason Kuhn greets young members of the crowd after a demonstration of skills by the Navy SEALs on July 13, 2019, at the Swim With A Mission fundraiser. A series of events in July — culminating with the annual swim competition and military demonstrations at the lake — raised $1 million for the National Navy SEAL Museum in Fort Pierce, Fla., as well as veterans services efforts in New Hampshire.

Renee Plummer and Gov. Chris Sununu, who led one of 19 teams that participated in the Swim With A Mission Paintshoot at OSG Paintball in C. Barnstead. A series of events in July — culminating with the annual swim competition and military demonstrations at Newfound Lake — raised $1 million for the National Navy SEAL Museum in Fort Pierce, Fla., as well as veterans services efforts in New Hampshire.

Retired Navy SEAL Dale McClellan with K9 Storm led a demonstration at Newfound Lake on July 13, 2019, before a crowd of 5,000 people during the Swim With A Mission event. A series of events in July — culminating with the annual swim competition and military demonstrations at the lake — raised $1 million for the National Navy SEAL Museum in Fort Pierce, Fla., as well as veterans services efforts in New Hampshire.

Published in the New Hampshire Union Leader.

BEDFORD — The third annual Swim With a Mission event raised over $1 million for the National Navy SEAL Museum and other Veterans services in New Hampshire. The series of events took place in July, culminating with the annual swim competition and military demonstrations on Newfound Lake. This year’s events featured 30 Navy SEALs, active and retired, most who serve or served with SEAL Team 6. The SEALs were led by retired Command Master Chief Rick Kaiser and Vice Admiral Bob Harward.

Phil Taub, co-founder and chairman of the board, said, “We are humbled to have so many of America’s most accomplished warriors make the trip with their families to New Hampshire. We are already planning and working on next year’s events.”

Events included a paint shoot, with 20 companies raising over $400,000 to participate in the ultimate team building day at OSG Paintball in Center Barnstead. Kelly Ayotte, former U.S. Senator and SWAM board member, said, “OSG told us that this is the most successful fundraiser in the history of paintball tournaments and it couldn’t be for a better cause than to support our Veterans.” Whiskey and Whiskers was hosted by the Ladd Farm in Bristol, and showcased the skills of the SEALs’ canines and their handlers. The VIP Reception was a night with SEALs and their families hosted, by Meadow Wind in Hebron, raising over $350,000. Swim With a Mission at Wellington State park saw 264 swimmers swim across Newfound Lake, and raised over $100,000.

Julie Taub, co-founder, said, “It takes so many volunteers to make three days of events successful and we are so grateful for the hundreds of volunteers that put in so many hours.”

Money raised will go toward purchasing 17 elite support dogs for Veterans, starting a new equine therapy program in the Lakes Region, support for Veterans struggling with PTS and TMI, providing vouchers for fresh fruits and vegetables for New Hampshire Veterans, scholarships for children of Veterans who died in service, helping Veterans find jobs, supporting Veterans who seek to create art to help with PTS or as a new profession, and more. Swim with a Mission supports the National UDT-Navy SEAL Museum, including its K9 program and Trident House charities; Veterans Count of the Lakes Region; Children of the Fallen Patriots; Elite Meet; CreatiVets; WarPaints; Vouchers for Veterans; and a new Equine Immersion Program at Ladd farm.

Joe Graham, president of iHeartMedia New Hampshire, said, “We are very proud of the fundraising efforts this year, especially as we celebrate the 100th Anniversary of Veteran’s Day this November. Veteran Organizations can submit their application and questions for 2020 financial support at our website www.swimwithamission.org.”

Published in The Laconia Daily Sun.

Paintshoot

Covered from head to toe in neon orange and yellow splotches, Gov. Chris Sununu found himself pinned down behind a makeshift bunker of tree branches to take shelter from the hailstorm of day-glow paintballs soaring across the battlefield.

“Just like a day at the State House,” said Sununu, still clutching a face shield peppered with orange paint.

While it was all fun and games, Sununu and the nearly 250 people who gathered Thursday on the grounds of OSG Paintball in Center Barnstead had come out to support the work of Swim With a Mission, a Granite State-based nonprofit dedicated to aiding organizations that help veterans.

PaintshootThe event kicked off a weekend of military-themed expositions that end with a Saturday swim across Newfound Lake. The group’s second annual Corporate Paintshoot provided area business owners and their employees with the opportunity to learn team-building tactics from 20 active and retired Navy SEALS.

The 19 corporate teams each consist of 10 members, with all of the teams earning their spots in exchange for a $25,000 donation to the organization.

After a morning of panel discussions and lectures, the teams, each led by a SEAL, got the chance to put their new skills to the test in a paintball tournament.

“It gives business owners an insight into a whole other lane that people live in as special operations guys,” said Steve Matulewicz, a retired SEAL command master chief.

Matulewicz, a Rye resident and vice president of Sig Sauer Academy, said the all-day seminar helps to equip participants with skills that are as helpful in the boardroom as they are on the battlefield.

“When I’m talking to them about how we’re going to flank, or how we’re going to have a maneuvering element, they don’t think that way. They think maybe spreadsheets, dollars and cents. So they’re hearing all of this, they’re looking at leadership, they’re looking at delegation, they’re looking at who in the group is stepping up to lead and it helps them in their businesses,” said Matulewicz.

Thanks to events like the Paintshoot, Swim With a Mission has raised $1.2 million over its first two years, and aims to surpass $1 million in donations from the 2019 Paintshoot alone.

PaintshootSome recipients of funds include Veterans Count, a charity and assistance program for veterans and military families in New England, and Trident House Charities, a respite community in Sebastian, Fla., for families of SEALS killed in the line of duty.

“We started this organization because, obviously, we’re upset about how some of our veterans are struggling to get the help that they need,” said retired SEAL Phil Taub, who founded Swim With a Mission alongside his wife Julie.

“A lot of our veterans are leaders in our community and doing very well, but too many of our veterans are struggling.”

Some of this year’s participating businesses include Manchester Harley-Davidson, Cross Insurance and Granite State Stoneworks, all of which were dedicated to snatching first place from AutoFair Automotive Group, 2018’s reigning Paintshoot champions.

“We’re very competitive,” said AutoFair President Andy Crews. “There’s a lot of people that would like to take over our reign, but there’s only one championship.”

Besides the thrill of the competition, Crews, who is a former Marine, said he sees the Paintshoot as a “win-win” that allows him to support veterans and his employees in one fell swoop.

“They do a lot of talking about teams, leadership and how to set a culture based upon positive mental attitudes, which plays into any corporation,” said Crews.

“So as much as the paintball is fun and as great as it is to raise money, the managers from my operation are getting a firsthand experience from the Navy SEALS about how to overcome obstacles and set objectives. That is added value to me.”

Crews’ sentiments were echoed by Sununu, who said the collection of bruises and welts from the day’s activities were well worth the chance to support “America’s heroes.”

“When these guys sit down and really talk about team-building and achieving a mission, it’s awesome because they do it with their lives on the line for our country overseas in the toughest of conditions,” said Sununu of the SEALS in attendance.

“If you’re going to learn anything about those types of skills, this is the group to do it with.”

By Travis R. Morin Union Leader Correspondent.

Meadow Wind B&B

Phil and Julie Taub stand on the back lawn of Meadow Wind Bed & Breakfast in Hebron that they purchased last year. The couple founded Swim With A Mission in 2017, an open water swim festival on Newfound Lake that has raised more than $1.3 million to benefit veterans.

Phil and Julie Taub have enjoyed the natural beauty and the history of the Newfound Region for years.

When a nearly 200-year-old homestead in Hebron came up for sale, they bought it, setting up a bed and breakfast in the picturesque lake town filled with 19th-century buildings in the foothills of the White Mountains.

“Let a new generation come to Hebron and enjoy the lake, the mountains and this beautiful property. If we can let people experience that we will be very happy,” said Julie Taub, who has been coming to the community since 1981 when her parents bought a local summer home.

The couple’s hope is that their Meadow Wind Bed & Breakfast will serve as a base for visitors. Located at the northern end of Newfound Lake, about halfway between Plymouth and Bristol, Hebron has a year-round population of just over 600 people.

Phil Taub, a partner with Nixon Peabody in Manchester, who heads the law firm’s private equity and family office practice group, was born in Durban, South Africa, and grew up surfing and life guarding on the Indian Ocean.

“There is something magical about Newfound Lake. It’s unique in that it is spring fed and among the cleanest in the world,” said Taub, who was introduced to Hebron when he met Julie in 1987.

An avid swimmer and cyclist, Taub recounted that on frequent bike rides around the lake he watched the former owner of the property, Air Force veteran Peter Carney, work to restore the 1820 homestead and winterize it. Carney later hosted weddings in the post-and-beam barn.

The original homestead was built by Captain Enos Ferrin, one of the area’s first settlers, on some 350 acres. Some of that land now belongs to New Hampshire Audubon but remains open to the public as the Paradise Point Nature Center and Wildlife Sanctuary, which includes hiking trails and 3,500 feet of lake frontage.

Meadow Wind

The living room at Meadow Wind features a tin ceiling and a true barn find from the property — a sign notifying Hebron residents that the dump is closed.

The Audubon-owned Ash Cottage, just a stone’s throw from Meadow Wind at 41 North Shore Road, offers a prime spot for watching brilliant sunsets over the lake, and the absence of light pollution makes ideal conditions for admiring the stars. Taub said wedding parties use the backdrop for photos.

As just the fifth family to own the property in two centuries, the Taubs are committed stewards. Retaining some of the antique pieces that came with the property, Julie Taub has created a theme in each of the guestrooms, blending old and new.

Meadow Wind

A flag adorns the wall of a post and beam barn at Meadow Wind Bed & Breakfast that serves as a popular wedding venue. Once home to some prize Herefords, the barn still contains nameplates for some of the cows.

The Captain’s Room takes its name from the home’s first owner. It features a king-sized wheat-carved four-post bed and original beamed ceilings.

In all, there are five guest bedrooms and four guest bathrooms.

The spacious screened porch overlooks a colorful flower garden and an expansive lawn. It is not uncommon to spot the occasional deer, black bear or moose meander by, Phil Taub says.

In the 25 years since moving to New Hampshire, Taub has committed himself to a variety of charitable efforts, including serving as president of the board of the Granite State Children’s Alliance, which helps victims of child abuse.

Swim With A Mission

In 2017, Taub was active with the Jeb Bush presidential campaign. In his frequent stops at American Legion halls, VFW posts and the New Hampshire Veterans Home, he said, a common theme emerged among the veterans.

“They were asking for help,” he said.

In response, the Taubs launched Swim With A Mission, an open-water swim festival on Newfound Lake to raise money to aid those who have served their country.

In learning more about the many issues facing the newest generation of veterans, the couple had the chance to speak with a group of Navy SEALs and shared their plans for the charity.

The SEALs pledged to participate and put on a public demonstration of their unique skills, including a free-fall jump from a helicopter into the lake, low-level parachute jumps and hostage rescue techniques using military K9s.

Meadow Wind

After a day of hiking guests at Meadow Wind Bed & Breakfast can walk into the attached barn and relax in the hot tub.

To date, Swim With A Mission has raised more than $1.3 million to benefit the Navy SEALs Museum in Fort Pierce, Fla., Veterans Count, Children of Fallen Patriots, Harbor Homes and the Bridge House veterans’ homeless shelter.

The event also honors the memories of New Hampshire service members killed in the war on terror.

“It’s a great reminder of what is important in life: loyalty to each other and to our great country,” said Taub.

The third annual Swim With A Mission, put on with the help of some 300 volunteers, will be held July 11-13 at Wellington State Park.

Swimmers who want to participate 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 are posted at www.swimwithamission.org.

By Bea Lewis / Union Leader Correspondent.

Join SEAL K9 and MPD K9

Join SEAL K9 and MPD K9 on July 13th at Newfound Lake with Swim With A Mission.

Challenge #2

This is the 2nd video of the MPD K9 Challenge for Swim With A Mission 2019.

2018 SWAM Event

SWAM 2018 Open Water Swim Festival to honor our Veterans. Last year’s event drew over 4,000 attendees. Enjoy watching live video of the competition on beautiful Newfound Lake, in Bristol, NH at Wellington State Park.

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?

Rick Kaiser, retired Navy SEAL and Executive Director of the National Navy UDT SEAL Museum will be featured speaker at the Jan. 15 Leadership Under Pressure event at the Currier Museum of Art.

A career of incredible accomplishments and now, an incredible personal journey made possible through NH connections.

MANCHESTER, NH – At some point in life we learn that being a leader has nothing to do with who’s at the top of the heap and everything to do with how those at the helm make sure everyone else is supported, elevated, appreciated and compelled to do their best work. That is how you build a foundation of leadership on which to accomplish anything.

Leading with grace – and strength –  under pressure is something Rick Kaiser knows, which is why he will be guest speaker for Leadership Under Pressure, a free program to be held at the Currier Museum on Jan. 15, 5:30-7:30 p.m.

Focus of the event will be on insights from Kaiser, who served for 30 years as a Navy SEAL. He is most often recognized as being a Silver Star Medal recipient for valor during  his time as Command Master Chief of SEAL Team 6 during the Battle of Mogadishu in Somalia, aka Black Hawk Down, among other harrowing assignments over his career as a SEAL.

The event is organized by Swim with a Mission, a non-profit organization that supports New Hampshire’s many veterans organizations, founded by Phil and Julie Taub. For the past two summers Kaiser and fellow Navy SEALS have participated in Swim with a Mission open-water races and demonstrations on NewFound Lake as a major fundraiser.

From left, Phil Taub, Rick Kaiser, Gov. Chris Sununu and Dean Kamen, during a Swim for a Mission event. Courtesy Photo

It has been the conduit for connecting Kaiser and the SEALS to New Hampshire in an important way that has so far raised more than $1 million for local veterans in need. But it has also turned out to be a life-changing journey for all involved, particularly Kaiser.

“Rick Kaiser told us at last summer’s event because of a bad jump he was going to have to have his foot amputated in Florida, where he lives. We said to him why don’t you take some time, do some research, and see what the latest and greatest thinking in amputations and prosthetics is,” says Phil Taub, an attorney with Nixon Peabody.

They also suggested Kaiser talk with New Hampshire inventor Dean Kamen, who developed the LUKE prosthetic arm and is founder of Manchester’s Advanced Regenerative Manufacturing Institute (ARMI/BioFab USA).  Kamen introduced Kaiser to Matt Albuquerque, founder of Next Step Bionics & Prosthetics.

“Matt is the preeminent prosthetics guy in the country, and he’s right here in New Hampshire,” Taub says.

Albuquerque did some research and recommended Kaiser as a participant in a new procedure for lower extremity amputees, known as The Ewing Amputation – named for the first successful transplant patient. Dr. Matthew Carty, director of the Lower Extremity Transplant Program at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, has accepted Kaiser to be one of 16 recipients of the groundbreaking procedure.

“Rick had his foot amputated in December, and we’re lucky to have him up here for a few months while he’s getting fitted for the prosthetic,” Taub says.

Which is how Kaiser is able to keynote the Jan. 15 event on leadership.

“This is a unique opportunity for us in New Hampshire to have somebody of Rick’s caliber. He was one of four Navy SEALS at the Battle of Mogadishu, and his tenure put him in the middle of anything the SEALS did, from Osama bin Laden to the rescue of Captain Richard Phillips  – it’s amazing to have him here,” says Taub.

He says recognizing the need for an organization like Swim with a Mission was directly related to seeing Navy SEALS in action, during a skills demonstration in Florida back in 2016, a way of raising money for the Navy Seals Museum.

The Taubs had been moved to action by the stories they were hearing from local veterans at town hall meetings all across the state as they followed the candidates during the previous election cycle.

When the Primary was over, the message from veterans continued to resonate with the Taubs,

“They were asking for help at every meeting, and so we did a little bit of research. New Hampshire has 130,000 veterans in the state, and for a state of 1.1 million, that’s a high percentage. And while some of the best leaders in our state are veterans, we also have a whole group of veterans who need help,” says Taub. “We were kind of embarrassed that over all the years that we’ve raised money for so many groups, we’d never done anything for veterans.”

All that changed with the founding of Swim with a Mission, which supports the work of local veterans organizations for unmet housing needs and other services.

Through a series of connections that brought together local thought leaders like Taub and Kamen, with those like Kaiser who lead by example and strive for excellence in their personal and professional endeavors, the January 15 program at the Currier should be as inspirational as it is instructional, says ARMI Executive and Board member Gray Chynoweth, one of the event organizers.

“As a graduate of LeadershipNH and Leadership Greater Manchester, I know that our community values coming together to learn about how we can work smarter in our effort to move our community forward.  We are so lucky to have Rick in New Hampshire and I was thrilled to work with Phil, Leadership NH, the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce and the Currier to give our community a chance to benefit from his experience and perspective.”

By Carol Robidoux, Ink Link

Barbara Kaiser had a premonition the night before she and her husband, Rick, were to get married for the third time in two weeks.

Rick, a retired Navy SEAL, planned to jump out of an airplane and land near their lakeside wedding site in Wisconsin — the first time his parents would see him parachute from a plane.

“If he jumps, he’d get severely injured,” she recalled, thinking back to that night in August 2016.

Rick, who helped manage the raid to capture terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden in Pakistan in 2011, ended up smashing his right foot into a pier at high speed, an injury so damaging that it led to eventual amputation and a fitting for a prosthetic foot in Manchester.

“If someone tells you a story about a wedding-day fail, then you tell them to beat this story,” Rick said Friday.

“It sounded like two cars colliding,” said Barbara, who was in her wedding dress and heels when he crashed. “I ripped off my shoes and ran down to him.”

By chance, a trauma nurse was in a boat in the lake right there. A former first responder herself, Barbara wanted to make sure he wasn’t more seriously hurt. Before the ambulance left with Rick, she had unfinished business.

Rick Kaiser of Vero Beach, Fla., is examined by Jason Lalla of Next Step Bionics & Prosthetics in Manchester on Friday. Kaiser had to have his foot and part of his leg amputated to prepare for a prothesis and robotic foot after he seriously injured his foot while parachuting into his wedding. DAVID LANE/UNION LEADER

Barbara had Rick sit up on the gurney in the ambulance and slipped a wedding ring on her husband’s finger. They exchanged their “I do’s” for the third time, following ceremonies in their home state of Florida and in Colorado for her family.

“Both paramedics were shaking their heads,” Rick said. “‘That doesn’t count. This guy’s on morphine.’” Rick, 57, the executive director of the National Navy UDT-SEAL Museum in Fort Pierce, Fla., had completed 2,500 jumps, with only one other injury.

The wedding day accident “was a culmination of bad decision-making on my part,” he said. The wind shifted while he was aboard the plane, a development he didn’t detect, and he had designed a landing zone that was too small.

Rick planned to get his foot amputated in Florida in March 2018, but his wife urged him to wait.

“It was still attached. It was immobile. The bones were all shattered,” Rick said.

He wasn’t a stranger to New Hampshire.

A few years back, Manchester attorney Philip Taub wanted to form a notfor- profit group to benefit charities and met Rick by chance in Florida.

Rick brought some SEALS with him for Taub’s fundraising events the past two years at Newfound Lake. Last year, 4,000 people came to watch the SEALS do demonstrations. That’s when Taub and others wanted to help Rick and arranged for the Kaisers, who live in Vero Beach, Fla., to meet Manchester inventor Dean Kamen and later Matt Albuquerque, president of Next Step Bionics & Prosthetics in the Millyard.

“The main guy who stepped in to change my mind (about the Florida amputation) was Matt,” Rick said. “He showed me all the stuff going on, and he was the man who introduced me to Dr. (Matthew) Carty.”

Last month, Carty performed a special surgery, amputating Rick’s right foot and leg below the knee, at Brigham and Women’s Faulkner Hospital in Boston.

“With the Ewing amputation, muscles that are amputated are tied together in such a way that his muscles will work in a very similar way as when he had his foot,” Albuquerque said.

Rick will get a prosthesis this month and hopes later this year to get use of a robotic foot as part of a medical trial.

Once he gets the robotic foot, “he’ll think about lifting his toe up and the prosthetic foot will push up,” Albuquerque said. “It will act like his human foot.”

Rick and Barbara Kaiser of Vero Beach, Fla., were at Next Step Bionics & Prosthetics in Manchester on Friday with his service dog, Jesse. Rick was seriously injured while parachuting into his wedding ceremony. After amputation surgery last month in Boston, he’s awaiting a prosthesis and is hoping for a robotic foot later this year as part of a medical trial. DAVID LANE/UNION LEADER

The foot will operate similarly to Kamen’s LUKE robotic arm, which, with help from a different special surgery, allows the user to control the limb by merely thinking about moving it.

Rick, formerly SEAL Team Six command master chief, will give a free talk at the Currier Museum of Art in Manchester on Jan. 15. People need to register online at eventbrite.com.

“Mainly about leadership, overcoming adversity, things like that,” he said.

Barbara, who is marketing the couple’s life story for a possible television series, said SEALS “have this mind-over-matter thing few people have.”

Rick, a member of SEAL Team Six from 1985 to 2012, acted as sniper, explosives expert, lead training chief, sniper team leader and deputy operations officer.

He was among those involved in bringing home captured Army pilot Michael Durant of Berlin after his helicopter crashed in Mogadishu, Somalia, in 1993. Rick received the Silver Star Medal for Valor during the Battle of Mogadishu.

The event was retold in a movie, “Black Hawk Down,” which Rick said was about 80 percent accurate, “which is fairly high for a war-type movie.”

He and his SEAL team provided security “for the group that brought Durant home,” Rick said.

His SEAL team also captured bin Laden, an operation that Rick helped to manage from the United States. Bin Laden was killed in the raid.

Rick Kaiser, a retired U.S. Navy SEAL, stands by a helicopter while serving in Mogadishu, Somalia. COURTESY

“All our missions are capture and not kill,” he said. “What we want to do is collect intelligence, so we can run the next couple of missions.”

The plan was to capture the terrorist leader, but bin Laden had a gun when U.S. forces confronted him.

“They burst in the room, he had a weapon in his hand and he was a threat,” Rick said.

SEAL members learn life’s setbacks are not roadblocks but “speed bumps,” according to Rick, who is optimistic about picking up his pace soon once he gets his new foot.

“I’ve slowed down a little bit,” he said. “I have no doubt by this time next month, I’ll be cruising around.”

By MICHAEL COUSINEAU, New Hampshire Union Leader