VETWOD raises support for veterans, first responders & service dogs with Strongest.

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Sebastian Paz



VETWOD uses Strongest for all their competition needs. They throw an annual “VETWOD” competition to benefit veterans and first responders. In 2019 they linked up with Barbells for Bullies to host a fundraiser competition benefitting Operation Sidekick called “SitRep.” SitRep brings awareness to the situations that challenge veterans and shelter dogs.

Q&A With The Organizers

What is your name?

Sebastian Paz

When and how did your involvement with not-for-profit fundraising through competitions get started?

I was deployed to the Middle East in the Fall of 2016 through the Spring of 2017. The first thing I did when I had time off was go to our gym, CrossFit Undisclosed. Because it’s in the Middle East, on a military base, it’s a not-for-profit Affiliate. Which means that the coaching, the equipment, everything is donated. When I got there the equipment was pretty run down. I wasn’t even able to do my regular programming because of lack of equipment. One night, in the middle of the night, I was thinking “I’ve got to do something about this!” I decided to host a fundraiser competition to raise money to buy equipment for CrossFit Undisclosed.


What led you to work with Strongest?

I was looking for partners that were veteran-owned small businesses. When I found Strongest and emailed some questions, I had a response in an hour or two from Strongest Customer Support. They were “all in” and extremely helpful with that CrossFit Undisclosed fundraising event.

Fast forward a year or so, and VETWOD is now a 501c3 that helps veterans and first responders deal with mental health and other issues through a mixture of exercise and community. We work to help people see that there is hope, there is light at the end of the tunnel.

VETWOD has worked with Strongest on a number of competitions since it was founded. Fast forward to 2019 and VETWOD’s collaboration with Barbells for Bullies on SitRep, and it just made perfect sense to run our SitRep fundraising competition on Strongest.com.

How did SitRep come to be?

There’s a strong love for dogs in the veteran and first responder community. We have a lot of members that need service dogs, or that have canine partners for their jobs. I had wanted to do something that would benefit this community. In talking with our good friend Alex at Barbells for Bullies, we realized it made perfect sense to combine our efforts to support their cause of rescuing dogs while also helping veterans and first responders.

VETWOD and Barbells for Bullies together created SitRep. SitRep is a fitness competition, hosted on the Strongest platform, that raises money benefiting Operation Sidekick, which pulls dogs from shelters and trains them to be service or therapy dogs for veterans and first responders.

How has Strongest helped you manage SitRep and other VETWOD competitions?

Strongest is by far the most user friendly competition management platform in the market. I like that you can modify and edit every organizer detail to customize it for your event. It’s easy to setup workouts and manage competition scores. I like to track how many people sign up for our competitions in response to one of our Instagram posts, or when we run an ad, or when I share some other type of content.

I monitor how many sign-ups I’m getting in each division. This helps me decide which divisions I might need to target with specific content to increase registrations. Also, being a nonprofit, I like being able to track if competitors are signing up for our event but not donating $5 or $10 on top of their registration and adjust our efforts as needed. Strongest makes it simple for me to do all of these things. And I really appreciate being able to ask Strongest staff questions and getting back quick answers. Having that live customer service is very important.


Will you work with Strongest on future competitions?

Yes! I’ve done everything I can to carry forward our mission, right down to donating plasma once or twice a week for six months when we were first starting up VETWOD just to keep things going. That’s how invested I am in what we’re doing at VETWOD, and I want partners that are just as invested in our success too. I can’t imagine running our events on any other platform besides Strongest.

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