United Airlines to Participate in CHAD1000X Veterans Day Hero Workout

November 9, 2023 by
Photo Credit: Chad 1000X
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It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s…boxes in Terminal C at Chicago O’Hare International Airport? 

United Airlines has announced it’s participating in the hero workout “CHAD” this Veterans Days weekend to remember Navy SEAL Chad Wilkinson. 

Remind me: Hero workouts are a fixture in the sport of CrossFit and are created to remember someone who lost their life, oftentimes a member of the military, fire department, or police department, among others.

Chad Wilkinson took his own life in 2018 after being a Navy SEAL for 21 years. He suffered from several TBIs (traumatic brain injuries), blast wave injuries and PTSD after many deployments. His widow, Sara Wilkinson, created the Step Up Foundation and launched the CHAD1000X hero workout in 2020 to remember her husband and bring attention to veteran suicide.

Chad1000X is 1,000 weighted box step-ups for time and can be completed solo, with a partner, or in a team. The “prescribed” weight on the rucksack is 30 pounds for men and 20 pounds for women. The height of the box is at the athlete’s discretion. The “expert” version is a 45-pound rucksack and a 20” box for the step-ups. 

The event has grown immensely over the last few years thanks to partnerships with CrossFit HQ and GORUCK and affiliates who have decided to make it an annual event. Separately, United Airlines’ participation in the workout is a positive sign, says Sara, who is hopeful about the expansion of CHAD1000X. 

  • “I was a little floored that they [United Airlines] came to us,” said Sara, who added, the idea came about when a small group of United employees who had participated in CHAD1000X before reached out to Wilkinson to plan an event. 
  • “We will be collaborating with The Step Up Foundation to complete CHAD1000X in our C18 holdroom, where employees can participate in steps to raise funds for veteran suicide prevention,” said Garrett West, United’s Managing Director of Technical Operations at O’Hare and a participant in CHAD1000X since 2020. 
  • United4Veterans (U4V), United’s Veteran Business Resource Group will be hosting the event throughout the day on Friday, November 10, from 8 AM to 5 PM CT. 
  • “I thought this year would be a good event for U4V not only at ORD, but all U4V members to experience. Not only for the experience of doing the steps but the ability for U4V/United to continue building a relationship that could grow,” said West. 

West and other United employees will be “knocking out steps” throughout the day and will be around to answer any questions. They will also accept donations for those who don’t want to step, and will be there to support participants. 

  • “We will have steppers set up, two 8”, two 10” and one 20”, along with the ruck plates and sandbags I will be bringing in,” said West. Their goal is to hit $5,000 and they plan to track all steps on smartphones and watches and a final count will be tallied at the end of the event. 

The CHAD1000X workout has deep roots in the CrossFit community, according to Sara, who shares that Chad was doing CrossFit back in 2004 and got her involved in the sport too. Sara worked on CrossFit’s Seminar Staff as a trainer and even opened a gym. 

  • “The partnership as it relates to CrossFit is very organic and it’s not lost on me,” she added. The goal of the Step Up Foundation is to become a global movement and be the go-to place for those seeking resources on veteran suicide. The partnerships with major organizations are key to the success and future of CHAD1000X. 
  • “CrossFit has the very unique ability to kind of saturate communities and culture for the good, and I believe that can also happen outside of the gym by partnering with an organization like ours, the Step Up Foundation,”
  • “That’s a small little glimpse into the way I can see this growing and changing. I hope that CrossFit and GORUCK will stay in this fight with me. I hope to expand this platform even further.” 

The bottom line: Hero workouts have been a staple in the CrossFit community for many years now and for them to continue growing beyond the CrossFit space, like the Step Up Foundation, it will require corporate partners or participation.

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