Profiles in Resilience


Brian Pierce: Competing in the Boston Marathon, Former Navy Seal Overcomes Adversity and Inspires Childhood Cancer Patients to “Never Give Up”

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This week we are highlighting one of our beloved Navy SEAL mentors, Brian Pierce. Brian began mentoring with One Summit in November of 2014 at our second Climb For Courage event after he learned about One Summit through a fellow SEAL.

Brian knew he could help our little warriors battling cancer by sharing his own experiences and sending them the message that physical limitations are not permanent obstacles. He said, “I hope the kids realize to never give up. Just because something bad happened to you doesn’t mean you look down on yourself, you keep moving forward and don’t give up. Yes, you have limitations, but you learn to adjust to those limitations and keep moving forward.”

From a young age, Brian has faced adversity head on with full force. Although he has always been extremely competitive and grew up as a talented athlete, Brian was initially told he would never be able to play sports due to Asthma. This never stopped him as he went on to swim, play football and baseball for his high school teams. Later, he worked as a lifeguard where he received training from a former Navy SEAL. Brian was inspired by this relationship and was determined to be the best; from then on he set his sights for the US Navy SEALs.

After graduating from high school, Brian enlisted in the Navy. From there, he spent a year and a half aboard the USS Orion and then attended Intelligence Specialist (IS) “A” School in Damneck, VA. It was not until after this that he was screened and selected to attend Basic Underwater Demolition training or BUD/S. This is a six-month program designed to push men to their limit, and then some more. Only the strongest and most mentally fit can endure the extreme intensity. This causes approximately 80% of all participants to quit. BUD/S training pushes candidates to their limits to ensure that they have the core values it takes to keep going even when their bodies and minds tell them to quit. Brian never gave up and eventually made it to the formal class graduation in which the proud and few successful graduates dress in their uniforms and are recognized for their achievement in the presence of family and senior SEAL leaders.

This began Brian’s ten-year commitment to excellence as a Navy SEAL. It was not until years later that he experienced a career halting injury in which he lost six fingers and was medically discharged. After leaving the SEALs, he went on to receive his Bachelor of Science in Computer Science from ECPI University in Virginia Beach and is now a program manger for the Department of Defense. Despite his injuries, Brian now enjoys spending much of his time hunting and fishing but his competitive nature is still visible.

In the upcoming year of 2016, Brian will be competing in two Ironman 70.3′s in Raleigh and North Carolina as well as, Ironman 140.6 in Chattanooga. Ironman Chattanooga is comprised of a 2.4 mile swim, a 112 mile bike ride followed by a 26.2 mile run while Ironman 70.3 in Raleigh and North Carolina are comprised of a 1.2 mile swim, a 56 mile bike ride and a 13.1 mile run. Despite Brian’s ambitious commitments, he did not hesitate to accept when asked to join One Summit’s 2016 Boston Marathon team.

Brian has been very active within our organization and has never ceased to inspire us. “Even though I only have a few fingers, I can still be physically active. I wanted to be an example to the kids that even though they may have physical limitations, they can still achieve anything.” Brian now serves to encourage and empower our little warriors and brings endless positivity and excitement to our program. Brian reminisces, “ What I recognized during the event is that the kids never gave up. Even though they were dealt a bad hand, they kept moving forward, the kept playing the game. They were so positive.”

We are truly grateful to have Brian on our Boston Marathon Team!

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