Meet Travis Manion Foundation: The Power of Service and Wellbeing

In July 2021, Burnalong announced the winner of America’s Favorite Trainer, Darlene Marshall. To honor her work in the community, we made a $1,000 donation to an organization of her choosing, Travis Manion Foundation (TMF).

With Veteran’s Day around the corner, here in the U.S., we wanted to take a moment to highlight TMF, their great work, and America’s Favorite Trainer, Darlene Marshall’s work with them.

What is TMF and who do you work with?

Travis Manion Foundation is a community – led by veterans and families of the fallen but open to all – that serves together and supports each other. We provide our members with best-in-class personal development training and experiences, creating volunteer leaders that address our country’s most pressing problems.

We believe veterans and families of the fallen are uniquely positioned to lead, both due to their commitment to our country and their passion for service. For this reason, our mission is to empower veterans and families of the fallen to develop character in future generations.

Can you share a story or outcome of TMF participants that highlights the work you do?

There are so many veterans and family members of the fallen who are making a difference through their work with TMF, so I’d love to share an example of each with you. First, Monica Velez is a Gold Star Sister, whose world fell apart when both of her brothers died while serving in the Army. Monica found a way to channel her grief by serving others and sharing the stories of her brothers to students through TMF’s Character Does Matter program.

Early Lundy is a U.S. Army veteran who was severely wounded while serving in Afghanistan. He has participated in numerous character and leadership courses, including TMF’s Spartan Leadership Summit in 2020. Earl volunteers as a “Character Does Matter Mentor” for TMF, where he mentors the next generation of leaders on what it means to live a life of high character and to be of service to your own community. A great example of the impact Earl has made through TMF, in his own community, can be seen in his mentorship with students at 8 Million Stories in Houston, TX.

How does TMF promote wellness in your communities?

We know that our mission of empowering veterans and families of the fallen is most effectively carried out by taking a science-based approach. The foundation of all TMF initiatives is rooted in Positive Psychology, a field dedicated to studying factors that contribute to individual and community well-being.

Based on this research we know that our Spartans are able to improve their well-being through three areas: finding meaning and purpose in their lives, developing meaningful relationships, and fully engaging in activities that leverage personal strengths. See results of a recent report here: Our Impact (travismanion.org)

Each of our programs and offerings is built around providing our members with more meaning, stronger relationships, and deeper engagement. We focus on physical wellness and community-building in events like the 9/11 Heroes Run 5k series or the Manion WOD (“workout of the day”) each spring. And we also promote mental wellbeing through online courses and resources as well as myriad opportunities to connect with fellow members, through serving together and honoring the fallen.

Can non-veterans get involved and help?

Absolutely. We welcome all individuals to join our community, and the best way to do that is to visit www.travismanion.org and click “join the mission” where you can be added to a list to receive updates on community events and will be connected to a local representative.

Events that are open to non-veterans include the 9/11 Heroes Run, Manion WOD, #TheHonorProject, and Operation Legacy Service projects. We also have an online learning hub, The Spartan Development center, with free resources and online courses, specifically focused on well-being, that is available to all.

How can veterans connect with you and get involved?

We encourage veterans and families of the fallen to visit our website, www.travismanion.org, and click “join the mission” for more information and communication about local events and opportunities, and to get connected to their local TMF representative.

We also encourage veterans to visit the section of our website titled “veterans and families of the fallen” to learn about opportunities. Our most popular opportunity for veterans is the “Character Does Matter program” where we train veterans to serve as mentors to local youth. More information on this program, including how to become a youth Mentor can be found on our website.

Are there ways for folks to support TMF or get involved virtually?

Yes! Not only do most of our events offer virtual options (ex. virtual registrations for our races and fitness events), but we have also opened our online learning hub, The Spartan Development Center, to all. By visiting our website and joining the mission, you will have access to wellness resources and courses, with more free courses being added in 2022.

America’s Favorite Trainer Supports TMF

We asked Darlene Marshall a bit about her connection with TMF when we chatted with her over the summer about her win. Here is what she had to say about who they are for her and the impact they are making:

“I first started working with Travis Manion Foundation as a service-learning project for my Masters in Applied Positive Psychology degree at the University of Pennsylvania.  I was collaborating with Andrea and Brennan from TMF’s Training and Education team and I really resonated with the mission, programs, and dedication to character and service that TMF embodies. I kept in touch with them and was asked by Andrea to teach a lunch and learn for the TMF staff. 

Travis Manion, himself, knew one of my friends when he was in school and he was killed while on deployment. That could have easily been someone I cared about and so it was very close to my heart. As the daughter of a Vietnam veteran and as the partner to someone who served in the US Navy, this is near and dear to me.

TMF provides all these great tools through positive psychology. They teach skills so that the population can turn around and serve their communities. It often means they’re going into schools and teaching about the strength of character, how to live a good life. For a population who cares so much about service, it is empowering them to continue to serve in a new way that makes us all better.

We decided to do a workshop on resilience earlier this year. It had great attendance and some really positive feedback. From there I was asked to teach the Positive Psychology unit and be one of the on-hand mentors in November at graduation for this year’s Spartan Leadership Program

They are wonderful, kind, generous, open-hearted people.”

Want to learn more?

We are so grateful for TMF and Darlene’s time; it is an honor to support the important work with veterans as they extend their service to the surrounding community. Burnalong believes that we are stronger together, and though we each have our own wellness journey, when we work alongside one another, we are truly able to thrive.

To learn more about TMF, please visit their website. If you would like to bring Burnalong and holistic wellness, featuring America’s Favorite Trainer – Darlene Marshall – to your organization, please reach out to us.

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