By Julie Thunder
Lance Cummings leads a multi-faceted life. A Cardiffian since 2005, he and his ER physician wife, Michele, and their twin 10-year olds are often seen around town on bikes, walking their dog Buddy, or playing soccer. But what you likely don’t know is that Lance is a retired Navy SEAL officer as well as a licensed chiropractor (treating mostly dogs and horses), and now, a serious player in the world of fundraising.
Two years ago Lance established Epic Charity Challenge to raise money for selected military charities. Last year they raised over $130,000 for the Glen Doherty Memorial Foundation and the Navy SEAL Foundation. This year he’s raising the bar with a new Epic Challenge – he is taking a team of 35 men to France for a reenactment of the WWII D-Day invasion of Normandy.
- What do you do to relax?
I try to coach my kids in Soccer or whatever they are interested in, I race canoes with Oceanside Outrigger and I enjoy mountain and road biking – including riding our tandem bike with Michele around town.
- Now that you’re retired from the military, how do you spend your time?
Besides my chiropractic practice, I coach Special Operations Forces Preparation Academy courses. The Academy is held at the Chula Vista Olympic Training Center and is where I bring potential military candidates as well as corporate employees together with SEAL coaches for mental and physical fitness training. I also volunteer for SEAL Family Foundation charity events locally.
- What inspired you to start Epic Charity Challenge?
I was conducting training with the Canadian military in 2015 and thought of holding an event be in a historic location, that would be challenging yet possible with training, and that would have a positive impact on the participating athletes giving back to a deserving charity.
- What was last year’s Epic Challenge?
We traced the route of the Sparta 300 warriors from Sparta to Thermopylae, Greece, marching nearly the same 250 miles they did to battle the invading Persians. That trip took us 8 days and there were 18 athletes who participated.
- Tell us about this year’s Challenge.
On June 6th, the 74th anniversary of the D-Day invasion, our team of 35 athletes will swim 6.5 miles in the English Channel to Omaha Beach in Normandy, France, climb the bluffs on Pointe du Hoc, then ruck 25 miles to the French village of St. Lo, the original D-Day objective.
- Which charity are you raising funds for this year?
Our beneficiary is the Navy SEAL Museum in Florida. They run a foundation called Trident House that offers scholarships to children of fallen special operations warriors, as well as lodging that families can use for pre and post deployment decompression time. The museum represents the legacy of the Navy Combat Engineers who were the first to arrive on the beach that day and used demolitions to destroy German obstacles so the US boats could land. The Combat Engineers took 50% casualties on
D-Day,and later morphed into the Underwater Demolitions Teams (UDT) which then became the US Navy SEAL Teams.
- How are you raising funds?
Each participant will raise a minimum of $5,000 for the event and will pay their own transportation to France. Our goal is to give 100% of participant donations to the SEAL Museum. To defray
costsof food and lodging while in France we are conducting an online auction with product donations from various companies.
- How can people help?
They can donate money to an individual participating athlete or donate products for the auction.