By Catherine Nailog
Having someone who cares makes a difference in one’s life, and ABC’s June 10th
broadcast of Secret Millionaire (Sundays, 8:00 p.m. ET) depicted a
heartwarming and inspirational story of people who have dedicated their lives in
caring for others. The show has been given the honor of Best TV Show of
Chuck Runyon and Dave Mortensen co-founded Anytime Fitness, the largest global
co-ed fitness chain. Both good friends and family men, Chuck and Dave decided
to take the Secret Millionaire journey to build some new perspectives in
their lives and to give to those in need. Chuck and Dave were sent to the
low-income neighborhood of Central Park in Oklahoma City. To drive in, they were
given an old, beaten-up station wagon. To live in, they were given a home that
was in desperate need of repairs. To live on, they were given $71.03 for the
week. Chuck and Dave decided to use the money to buy groceries. Unaccustomed to
having to be on a budget, they were surprised at the cost of food and argued
over what to buy using what little money they had.
While walking around their neighborhood, they came upon an advertisement for
volunteers for the OKC Youth Wrestling Foundation. Dave was passionate about
wrestling; the sport that introduced him to a life of physical fitness. They met
with co-founders Tyler Joe Williams and Shelby Bullard, the men responsible for
keeping at-risk youth off the streets. The particular neighborhood that the
foundation was located in was called “The Block,” once home to many of the
people who were now in the prison system. Tyler and Shelby wanted that to
change. Dave and Chuck, along with the other volunteers, helped coach some boys
during a wrestling session. They learned that equipment and food were all
provided through donations, and that the foundation cost $39,000 to run
annually. Tyler had mentioned that starting out, the coaches spent their time
breaking up fights, so it was a success to get the boys to a competitive
Chuck and Dave then visited Limbs for Life, an organization that provided
prosthetics for those unable to afford them. They met with Amy Gallegos and Pam
Timmons. Amy explained that prosthetics could cost up to $20,000, and most U.S
health insurance plans covered the cost of only one prosthetics per lifetime.
That fact would be similar to a child having to grow up with only one pair of
shoes. Chuck and Dave helped prepare donated prosthetics for shipment to
developing countries. U.S. health laws prohibits donated prosthetics being
While at Limbs for Life, Chuck met Charlie, a volunteer who was born with no
ankle bones or fibulas. Charlie never realized he was different than everyone
else. His mother taught him to do the best he could with what he was given.
Charlie reminded Chuck of his older brother who died from a heart condition at
the age of 18. He realized his brother and Charlie never let their conditions
define their lives. Chuck was moved by the organization’s goal to improve the
lives of amputees.
Chuck and Dave returned to OKC Wrestling to train some of the boys in the weight
room. After training, they ate, and the coaches helped with the boys’ reading.
In Oklahoma, over 30% of fourth grade students read below their grade level.
Dave spoke to one young man, Eric, who lived with his aunt. His mother had
recently died from abusing drugs, and his father was back in his life. Chuck
discovered the numerous essential roles that Tyler, Shelby, and the other
coaches assumed when working with the boys: parent, teacher, and mentor.
Chuck and Dave were invited to play volleyball with Charlie, a U.S. national
sitting volleyball player, and his friends. They never realized how physical
sitting volleyball was until they played with Charlie and his friends. Charlie
introduced Chuck and Dave to Connor, a young boy with a prosthetic leg provided
for by Limbs for Life. Limbs for Life has been able to provide Connor with
prosthetics throughout his life that would’ve cost his family $70,000. His
parents were very grateful for the support because it allowed Connor to be a
normal soccer-playing, hauling-out-the-garbage child. Amy and Pam told Chuck and
Dave that they’ve been behind in their funding causing a waiting list of 200
people that would have to wait a year or more for a prosthetic. Chuck
empathized with parents who worried over healthcare for their children.
On the last day of Chuck and Dave’s journey they decided to reveal themselves to
the OKC Youth Wrestling Foundation and Limbs for Life. At the OKC Youth
Wrestling Foundation, Dave made an emotional, passionate speech about the
foundation’s positive impact on the kids. They gave the foundation $39,000.
Chuck and Dave also gave Tyler and Shelby a key to their own Anytime Fitness
franchise and $150,000 toward making it successful. Through Chuck and Dave’s
donation, the foundation bought uniforms and shoes, and planned to purchase an
SUV to drive the kids to competitions. Tyler and Shelby’s Anytime Fitness opened
in December 2011. Chuck and Dave returned to Limbs for Life. Chuck was
appreciative for their work in helping individuals and their families. He and
Dave donated $100,000 to the program. Pam was so grateful because their donation
bought prosthetics for 50 people.
This episode of Secret Millionaire has been given the honor of Best
TV Show of the Week because the show demonstrated what can be
accomplished when people care. Dave said regarding the impact of his Secret
Millionaire journey, “I drove down the road with blinders on. And I think
many Americans do. We gotta get out of our houses, and we need to go outside and
really fix this earth.” It’s easy to become complacent in one’s life, but all it
takes is to step outside of one’s box to become inspired. To all the fathers
and surrogate fathers who take on active roles in caring and encouraging today’s
youth, Happy Father’s Day.
sponsored this episode. To thank them,
Best TV Show
of the Week
Television Council -