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Broncos Facility to Host Maltz Challenge

Posted Mar 18, 2014

For the third consecutive year, the Broncos' strength and conditioning facility will serve as a host for the Maltz Challenge, honoring fallen military heroes killed in the line of duty.

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- It's been nearly 11 years since Master Sgt. Michael Maltz lost his life in a helicopter crash during a mission to rescue sick and injured children in Afghanistan.

But he is far from forgotten.

In 2007, DEA Special Agents Keith Billiot, Todd Gregory, Chuck Noonan and Carson Ulrich began the annual Maltz Challenge in honor of Maltz and the five other Air Force Pararescue crewmembers that perished in the 2003 mission.

"We just had a mutual desire to honor the fallen soldiers," Gregory said. "We were into CrossFit, and this is what it became."

The initial challenge focused on Maltz and those crewmembers. Today, the challenge honors all fallen military heroes killed in the line of duty.

And for the third straight year, the Broncos' strength and conditioning facility will serve as a venue for the challenge. The eighth annual challenge will take place on Friday, March 21.

"The DEA has been really supportive of it, and guys like the Broncos' strength coaches and CrossFit gyms around the world have jumped on board," Gregory said. "It really is surprising to see how popular it has become."

One reason the Broncos' facility works so well for the event was on full display Tuesday morning.

"For days like today, it's perfect," Gregory laughed, pointing to the snow steadily falling outside the Broncos' headquarters. "It's just a nice facility. It's indoors and it kind of helps build the excitement with the whole challenge, honoring the fallen soldiers."

The relationship between the Broncos and the Maltz Challenge was originally fostered by Director of Special Services Fred Fleming and Vice President of Security Keith Bishop.

Since then, the Broncos' strength and conditioning staff has helped keep the challenge as an annual event at the club's facility.

"We've just kind of help manage the relationship with the facility here, and it's been great for us," Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach Jason George said. "I think a lot of people don't often think about the commitment that the people in service contribute to us."

What the challenge is all about was reinforced for George and the rest of the Broncos' coaches, players and some staff members when the team was privileged to watch an early screening of the movie Lone Survivor.

One of the Navy SEALs who died in the firefight depicted in the movie was Danny Dietz, who went to high school in Littleton, Colo. His parents were at the screening as the Broncos watched the film.

"The impact that it made on all of the coaches, players, whoever was in that room, watching that film with that family there, you could hear a pin drop," George recalled. "It was probably one of the most emotional situations I've ever been in watching a film. It just makes you appreciate the sacrifices that these people have made."

"And that's just one story," Gregory added.

The Dietz family will be at the Maltz Challenge Friday at the Broncos' facility, as will the family of Staff Sgt. Samuel Holder, the man to whom the Rocky Mountain Division of the DEA is dedicating the 2014 Maltz Challenge.

Holder grew up in Littleton, Colo. as well, serving eight years in the Marine Corps. His unit was deployed to Iraq in 2004, and he was killed on Veteran's Day that year in a firefight after his unit was ambushed.

Throughout the nation -- and even internationally in countries like France, Japan, Afghanistan, Colombia and Canada -- 19 fallen soldiers like Holder are being honored at various chapters of the Maltz Challenge.

The full list can be seen below:

"The best part of the day for us is meeting and talking with the families and seeing how appreciative they are of what (the Maltz Challenge) is doing," George said.

There is no cost to participate in the challenge, though T-shirts will be sold at the event with 100 percent of the proceeds going to Homes for Our Troops.

"It's the full circle," Gregory said. "We honor the fallen and give back to the wounded."

The challenge itself consists of a 400-meter run, 50 pull-ups, a 100-yard Firemen's Carry, 50 dips, 100 pushups, 50 knees-to-elbows, 100 sit-ups and finally another 400-meter run.

The challenge will start at 1 p.m. MDT. Registration is available online, and registration will be available on-site, but participants are encouraged to arrive by 12:30 p.m. MDT in order to get signed up in time.

More information can be found at deamaltzchallenge.com, the Maltz Challenge Facebook page and the Maltz Challenge Twitter account.

Who is eligible to participate?

"Anybody who wants to be here for the right purpose," Gregory said. "We want them here to honor Sam Holder and the fallen soldiers that we have this year."

If a participant feels they can't complete the full challenge, there is a half-Maltz available, which cuts every event in the challenge in half -- a 200-meter run, 25 pull-ups, etc.

And if even that is too much?

"For these people that can't do all the reps, we just ask them to do the best they can," Gregory said. "We don't have proctors saying, 'You've got three more to do.' We just say, 'Hey, if you hit the wall and you can't do any more, just sit there and think about these guys on the list.'

"We just want people here to honor these guys."