Oticon Hearoes demonstrated that teamwork and a shared goal go a long way to overcoming the military-style obstacles, rugged terrain, steep inclines and water hazards that made up this weekend’s Tough Mudder endurance challenge in Englishtown, New Jersey. The team of Oticon employees, including two former Marines, signed on for the event, dubbed Probably the Toughest Event of the Planet, to support the Wounded Warrior Project and its mission to assist severely injured veterans and, at the same time, raise awareness of hearing loss as the number-one service-related disability.
In addition to a $3500 donation from Oticon, Inc., each Oticon Hearo worked to raise additional funds and awareness through individual sponsorships from friends, family, colleagues, professional partners and others reached through Oticon USA Facebook postings and tweets in the weeks leading up to the challenge. The combination of corporate and individual donations earned the Oticon Team designation as the event’s top contributors.
“At Oticon, we continually look for ways to put our People First commitment into action to make a positive difference,” says of Cathy Van Evra, Manager, Key Account Development. “Our Oticon Hearoes have managed to do this in a way that both supports and honors the many Wounded Warriors who return home to overcome their own challenges, especially hearing loss which is the leading disability among returning veterans.”
Preparation builds awareness and muscles
The 15-member team began training to conquer the Tough Mudder’s 11-mile rugged terrain of steep inclines, water hazards and 20 to 30 military-style obstacles in early August. Before and after work and during lunchtimes, team members built their stamina and determination to meet the demands of obstacles such as the Funky Monkey, a series of monkey bars across a water pit and Walk The Plank, a climb up a 12-foot wooden platform before jumping into cold water below. The team balanced physical training with a series of internal and external communication strategies designed to strengthen and extend the reach of Wounded Warrior and hearing health messages.
“We tried to take our purpose – awareness and support for Wounded Warriors – very seriously and ourselves less so,” said team member Tom Nelson, Oticon Channel Manager. “Our government affairs team works on a daily basis with VA hospitals and clinics across the US. The stories they share of heroic veterans who benefit from the hearing solutions we produce and the work we do inspired us to pursue the Tough Mudder challenge and to make it mean more by driving public support and awareness.”
Teamwork trumps slippery slopes
It took team members five hours to cross the finish line. Mud-covered and weary, the Oticon Hearoes celebrated completion of a demanding course that on average only 80 percent of participating teams finish. Teamwork was key to their success -- helping each other over a 10-foot wall, under and through obstacles, forming human chains and sharing words of encouragement when the going got toughest.
“Our team signed on for the challenge because we wanted to give encouragement and support to our veterans,” says team captain Joe Lugara, West Regional Marketing Manager. “And then, somewhere along the course, the tables seemed to turn. As we struggled through the obstacles, it was the Wounded Warriors stationed throughout the course who were giving us high-five’s and cheering us on. The camaraderie we felt with them was electric.”
Tom Nelson summed up the team spirit at the close of Saturday’s challenge. “As we were heading home to ice our sore muscles, we realized that this was just one day of challenges for us,” he says. “Wounded Warriors encounter much greater obstacles every day, whether they have a visible disability or an invisible one, such a hearing loss. That they can have the right mental attitude to face each day and get on with their lives – that takes real courage!”