Intense training inspired by U.S. Navy SEAL Danny Dietz
When you meet Danny Dietz Sr., the rock-hard handshake and intense, clear eyes staring at you are matched by a friendly smile. Next, you recognize and admire the amazing level of intensity, focus, and sense of purpose Dietz Sr. has not only in giving this interview, but in his current efforts for the Danny Dietz Leadership & Training Foundation programs at their Littleton facility.
The rock-hard handshake and intense, clear eyes staring at you are matched by a friendly smile.
The non-profit was created for the purpose of bettering the community by training and mentoring at-risk youth. The intense training program is inspired by his son, U.S. Navy SEAL Danny Dietz, who gave his life for his country in 2005 in Afghanistan during Operation Red Wings. Dietz and eighteen of his comrades were killed in action, with only one team member surviving, Marcus Luttrell. The mission resulted in one team member receiving a posthumous award of the Medal of Honor, and Danny Dietz and the other two team members earning the Navy Cross, making them the most decorated SEAL team in history.
Dietz Sr., a Vietnam veteran and martial arts instructor, says he now feels a strong calling to channel his energy into helping youth today. He wants them to understand his son’s legacy and how to apply it to their own lives, particularly if they are severely off course.
He now feels a strong calling to channel his energy into helping youth today.
“Too many people are caught up in the collective conditioning of human dysfunction. It’s a vicious circle of pain and suffering and they don’t know how to get out of it, and I want to help them get out of it,” says Dietz Sr.
Too many people are caught up in the collective conditioning of human dysfunction…
He teaches a leadership class Monday and Wednesday nights to youth, teaching 17 founding principles and core values to young people. Maturity, self-discipline, decisiveness, poise under stress, and justice are just some of the philosophies discussed in an effort to enrich the lives of the students.
“There’s a lot of wasted potential in these young kids,” says Dietz Sr. “You look at 95 percent of the people out there, and the road gives them the wrong map to life. It’s like trying to get around Denver with a map of Chicago. It doesn’t work.”
The safe, positive environment at the Foundation’s facility includes classroom spaces and gym areas to accommodate leadership instruction along with intense physical challenges and classes from everything from CrossFit to gymnastics, Parkour to Hapkido, yoga to other various SEAL-inspired workouts.
Dietz Sr. says the programs are there for all at-risk children, including kids from broken homes, children with educational challenges, children involved in gangs or who have been bullied, or kids with a home with no structure or supervision. Anyone who has a troubled child aged 2 or older is welcome to come seek help. The ultimate goal is to mold and shape the youth into more virtuous students, family members, citizens, and leaders in their communities. The challenge is to break through to young people who may have no one in their life who has introduced them to these concepts and to help them to think differently, outside of their everyday environment.
“I gave a class here 3 months ago and the title of it was ‘Life is Difficult,’” says Dietz Sr. “But if you recognize that and can transcend that, then it doesn’t matter anymore because solving those problems in life is what gives meaning to life.”
If you recognize that and can transcend that, then it doesn’t matter anymore because solving those problems in life is what gives meaning to life.
That’s why it’s clear Dietz Sr. is a true modern gladiator. He says the rollercoaster of the highs and lows of his life have been extreme, but the common philosophies he shares with MG readers have left him standing strong today, pressing on with meaningful work. “Every second you’re alive is an opportunity to make a wise decision.”
HOW GLADIATORS CAN HELP
The foundation’s offerings at their Littleton location have created a robust schedule of programming for youth, and the hope is to expand the classes and increase attendance and access. The Dietz Foundation is exploring partnerships with referral organizations, such as the local juvenile court systems and other programs. Dietz Sr. insists no child will ever be turned away, but the current need for funding is urgent.
“I’ve been working on this for the past 8 years, putting my money into this, but we need funding,” says Dietz Sr. “We need people who will sponsor a child to cover the cost of them being here for mentoring and instruction.”
Gladiators who want to donate to sponsor a child in the programs can do so by visiting here.
WHAT WOULD DANNY THINK?
Dietz Sr.’s face flashes a pained smile when recalling his late son Danny, whom he lovingly describes as “ornery.” The conflict over using Danny’s story and image versus the private life he liked to lead is present, but Dietz Sr. says it’s worth it for the benefit of greater good.
“He used to come home and tell people he was an ice cream truck operator, rather than a SEAL. He would love the classes and our work here, but not want his name on the door.”
A door, it’s hoped, more and more of Colorado’s young people will choose to walk through, with the hope there’s a better life on the other side.