What does it take to build a fitness trail to help keep the 8,000 men and women in the Arizona Army and Air National Guard service ready?
In the case of the nine-station course just installed at the National Guard Armory in Phoenix, it takes the generosity of organizations like USAA to supply the equipment and the National Football League to help put plans in motion. It also requires more than 100 enthusiastic volunteers from USAA, United Way and the National Guard.
Dozens of volunteers armed with goggles, shovels, mallets, jackhammers and augers penetrated stubborn layers of bedrock at the base of the Papago Buttes. Under the direction of Army Captain Joseph Bzdoc, even volunteers inexperienced in construction learned how to set rebar, mix and pour concrete, and install bulky structures with absolute precision.
“It does something for the heart soul,” said Robin Dailey, explaining why she volunteered for United Way. “What’s coming out to dig a little dirt for all these soldiers do for us?”
Last, it takes a team of NFL Pro Bowl players to take the hand off in the final minutes to push the project through to the end.
“Just being able to be part of this is exciting for us,” said Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys quarterback, one of 25 NFL stars—including Cardinals defensive end Calais Campbell , and cornerbacks Patrick Peterson, Justin Bethel and Antonio Cromartie—who came to get their hands dirty installing the final stations.
No strangers to teamwork, the NFL powerhouses took their marching orders from guard volunteers like Army Technical Sergeant Charity Stuart. Stuart, who devoted three days to the project, didn’t hesitate to put Denver Broncos linebacker Von Miller and offensive tackle Ryan Clady to work toting water and raking gravel.
The finished trail provides a tool for soldiers to stay in shape and to teach young recruits how to develop their own physical training programs, said Bzdoc.
“I’ve been running this trail for about ten years now,” said Staff Sergeant Teresa Bovee. “This equipment is going to bring a whole other level to fitness for us out here.”
At the dedication of the Pro Bowl Community Blitz Fitness Trail Legacy Build, Brigadier General Edward Maxwell noted the service to community that all the participating organizations have in common.
He added, “Without the support of our community, we couldn’t succeed anywhere nearly as much as we do—on the field, in service and in business—in making a better community.”