The People

  • Endurance Runner, Speaker, & Visionary

George Chmiel

Endurance Profile

George is a highly qualified endurance athlete having completed 100-mile races on six continents, including 155-mile, self-supported ultra-marathons in The Sahara Desert (Egypt), The Australian Outback, The Atacama Desert (Chile), The Annapurna massif (Nepal), The Gobi Desert (China), and Antarctica. He’s also completed 21-marathons, with a PR of 3:04:25, Ironman Lake Placid, The Vermont 100, The Hong Kong 100, and multiple other endurance events. He’s one of 150 people in the world to have completed the 4Deserts series, having finished in the top-seven of all 4 races. He has never DNF’d an event.

Professional Profile

George is the CEO & Founder of OZ Sports Group, a development company combining technology enhanced gaming and premium food & beverage within unique sports entertainment venues. George worked for 11-years at Merrill Lynch in capital markets, wealth management, and sales, co-founded Capstone Apartment Partners, an industry leading multi-family investment brokerage in the southeast, and is one of the lead investors/consultant for Factor 75, a national prepared meals delivery company. George is also the record fundraiser for The MAGIC Foundation having raised over $250k to battle children’s growth disorders and was awarded the prestigious Merrill Lynch David Brady Award for outstanding commitment to the client and the community.

Hard-charging east coaster living in San Diego with a pension for pushing the envelope and breaking barriers. Lover of passionate people, difference makers, American freedom, building businesses, international travel, tech, sport, philanthropic ultra-running, dreaming big and Detroit Lions football! Loyal friend to all.

Why did you decide to get involved with Run Across America / BeastMode for the Brave?

Read my post “It Starts with With Why.”

What role do veterans play in your life?

As a civilian I don’t have a ton of direct communication with the veteran community. But I recognize they’re the protectors and providers of our freedoms. They deliver us average Americans the ability to live freely, without fear, and chase our dreams. That’s an incredible gift, and one I’m grateful for each and every day.

What do you think will be the most challenging part of the run?

The pain and physical pounding my body will absorb for 60-straight days with minimal recovery time. The soles of my feet, the muscle wasting, the reconstructed left ankle, the hernias. I’ve had four surgeries in the past eight-years. This will be a physical, mental and emotional challenge of epic proportions.

What have you learned while preparing for the run?

I’ve learned that the spirit and generosity of the American people is strong. That our veteran community is an incredible group of patriots who’ve sacrificed so much for our country, yet face grave challenges upon returning home from battle. Their strength and perseverance in the worst of times should be a shining example for us all to follow. We need to do a better job of educating ourselves on the issues they face so we can help them see the light through the darkness. And I’ve learned that when you’re willing to put it all on the line for something much bigger than yourself, people from all walks of life are willing to jump on board and commit to the fight. I’m so blessed and appreciative of our entire team’s commitment and dedication towards making this event a reality.

What will make Run Across America a success?

Most importantly, we start a conversation on the dire situation our military heroes face on the post-war home front. We’re not doing enough. Their struggle is real. Their depression is real. The number 22 is real. This isn’t about talk, it’s about action. If we save just one family or prevent just one suicide from the funds raised and awareness generated the run will be a huge success. But I hope our message does much more. Our country is divided and at a crossroads. I hope we do our small part to unite this nation behind our heroes. And I hope we provide a platform so the conversation continues much longer into the future.

  • Executive Event Producer, Logistics Director, & Social Media

Brian Fahmie

Creative genius coupled with logistical maniac who has a propensity for executing flawless productions. Serial entrepreneur, founder, inventor, CEO, game-changer, fearless, endurance racing junkie. I founded my first business before I was 18, I sold my first business when I was 26, and always have multiple businesses operating simultaneously. I work better under pressure with an increased workload as it allows me to stay focused which helps improve my productivity across the board. I’m the Co-Founder & CEO of Game Complex, a beyond next level entertainment attraction development company, as well as the Founder & CEO of Fearless Ventures, my personal incubator for new projects, endeavors, and passion projects, but that also provides expert consultancy services for business development, logistics, and event production for clients.

Athletically, I am primarily a short-course triathlete these days, having qualified for Team USA’s Age-Group triathlon team in 2012 and 2013 for the Age-Group World Triathlon Championships. Racing as part of the amateur Team USA for triathlon has been the highlight of my athletic endeavors; wearing the red, white, and blue of our country’s colors among a field of international athletes was such an honor and an incredibly moving experience. In addition to triathlon, I love to mountain bike, wakesurf, and snowboard.

Why did you decide to get involved with Run Across America / BeastMode for the Brave?

A host of reasons, but most importantly because I believe in the cause. I have a significant number of incredibly close friends and family members who are Veterans, and seeing their struggles first hand makes me upset at the lackadaisical treatment they receive. It’s mind boggling that they’ve become political pawns in partisan politics, it’s unacceptable, so the cause touches me deeply. Most people are armchair activists, full of hot air opinions that are as weightless as type on a page when it comes to actual change. Knowing George’s passion for this cause, and seeing him put his words into action, was more inspirational than most things I’ve witnessed in my life. This inspiration led me to get involved and I have enjoyed every step of the way so far.

What role do veterans play in your life?

Tucker and I’s grandfather is a Navy Veteran who was part of the team that mapped the top of the world in the late 1940s after WWII. We take things like GPS, maps, and modern-day tools for granted at times. Hearing his stories about their daily 12-hour long flights over the Arctic Circle – physically hanging out of cargo hold doors taking grid-by- grid photographs and hand mapping the Arctic Circle – gives you a sense of appreciation of the wide range of sacrifices our Veterans have given us citizens over the decades even beyond the battlefield. While I never served personally, one of my closest childhood friends is an Army Veteran having done 2 tours in Afghanistan. I will never truly be able to thank him and his brothers in arms for their service and sacrifice for our country, but it is my hope that through this event we can bring awareness to their needs on a large scale, to bring about a positive impact in their lives that’s greater than one man running across the country.

What do you think will be the most challenging part of the run?

The first two weeks as we’re running through the southwest in 100+ degree heat. Most of the day’s mileage will have to come in the very early morning, evening, and overnight. Running through the heat of the day would cause excess stress, delayed recovery, and increased body fatigue on George. This will be the most challenging and crucial part of the run to overcome, both logistically with the daily schedule and physically for George.

What have you learned while preparing for the run?

That when you gather a group of people who have the right heart, mindset, and dedication to achieve a stated goal, anything can be accomplished. An event like this always seems daunting on first glance, so having the right team around us – all of whom have the correct heart, mindset, and dedication – has proven invaluable already. The strength of our team is exponentially greater than that of any single member of the team and it’s been inspirational to be a part of it so far.

What will make Run Across America a success?

Completing the mission as designed. There will be trials and tribulations, adversity and unforeseen complications; yet we must find a way to overcome these circumstances to press forward with the mission, just like our military Heroes do every day in the line of duty. We must embrace a no-failure mindset and do whatever it takes to succeed in completing the journey and the mission.

  • Director of Photography & Film Producer

James Welch

James Welch, a native of Southwest Louisiana, is currently working in a region which has recently become one of most booming areas in the film industry. As an outdoorsman, cyclist, and beer connoisseur, James is at the same time an active filmmaker. He is currently working in many areas of TV, film, and print media and is currently attached to multiple television shows, feature length, and short films. He also amongst all of this facilitates video production of TEDx events in his home state.

Why did you decide to get involved with Run Across America / BeastMode for the Brave?

I had recently just began post-production with a good friend Justin Roberts on another project involving veterans when Justin approached me about my thoughts on being involved with production for Beastmode for the Brave. Being a firefighter and having many family members involved in civil service as well as our armed forces it wasn’t something I needed to give much thought to. I feel like our nations heroes need anyone and everyone willing to speak out for them to do so. If by making this film I am able to change their lives then there is no way I could turn down this role in the production of this.

What role do veterans play in your life?

Many members of my family are either active duty or veterans. My younger brother is a veteran and now working in law enforcement. They have shown me, veterans, that the most rewarding thing you can do in and with your life is to serve others and give your all in doing so.

What do you think will be the most challenging part of the run?

I feel as though the most challenging part of this run may be the final stretch. After we have endured the heat and drastic climate changes we will now again be forced again to do so. It will be once we are forced to gain elevation and work in the thinner colder air. We may even be seeing snow at this point. I believe this may be our most challenging section of the run.

What have you learned while preparing for the run?

That no matter how well you plan without the proper team in place your execution of this plan will suffer. Thankfully my time with the team thus far has been an amazing experience with everyone being more than willing to help.

What will make Run Across America a success?

What will make Run Across America a success is to bring awareness to the numerous issues veterans face and support to Guardian For Heroes, the charity we are backing by this project. To be a success will be to give everyone an opportunity not only to see this once it has been finished but to also have a chance to participate in this themselves. That is what will make this a success.

  • Driver, Logistics & Crew Assistant

Tucker Ballister

Who am I? In two sentences? A list may be better: adventurer, experiencer, reader, writer, knowledge-seeker, guide, apprentice, hiker, biker, runner, paddler, mostly planner, infrequent spontaneous-combustor, brother, son, friend, sometimes skeptic, sometimes optimist, lover, and, most of all, just a human being trying to connect with other living organisms. We have more in common than we often acknowledge, but be careful of aliens, they’re out there!

I am Brian’s cousin and I had the pleasure of working with him to produce various endurance races in San Diego during my time at San Diego State University. In the four years since, I have dabbled in many industries, not lasting more than two years in any one spot. I thrive on adapting to a changing external environment, for better or worse, and that’s one of the reasons I look forward to joining this crew. Currently, I reside in Austin, TX and work/play as a Guide, Certified Lifeguard, and Red Cross Instructor for an amazing organization called The Expedition School. I have also received certifications in waterfront lifeguarding and Wilderness First Aid.

Why did you decide to get involved with Run Across America / BeastMode for the Brave?

Hearing about this event struck a particular chord with me, as I have pondered organizing something similar myself. Although not a runner, I had considered a cross-country march to raise awareness of, and gather support for, an important cause. So, when this opportunity came around, I couldn’t pass it up. On the personal side, it’s hard for me to pass up a chance for a cross-country road trip, especially when that means working in a logistical role once again with my cousin, Brian, and having my energy and efforts go towards a righteous cause.

What role do veterans play in your life?

My father was in the Navy years ago, but was fortunate never to see any combat duty, especially during that time in history. My grandfather also served and I have several family friends in the armed forces. But, personal connections or not, I believe that the lack of veteran’s benefits is unacceptable, and the fact that veterans are committing suicide at such an alarming rate underscores the dire importance of the cause behind this undertaking.

What do you think will be the most challenging part of the run?

The Texas Heat!! While I don’t intend to underestimate George’s incredibly extensive experience with endurance running, managing input vs. output will be crucial to sustaining the energy needed to continue @ an average of 50 miles per day for a full 60 days. It should be mentioned that the Southern heat and humidity will have an effect on the entire crew, not just our amazing runner, George. Living in Austin, and working outside on a daily basis, I drink the equivalent of at least 5 32-ounce Nalgene bottles of water everyday, and sometimes I still pee dark yellow in the evenings. We’ll need plenty of H20 and electrolyte-laden beverages on board.

What have you learned while preparing for the run?

Preparing for an event like this obviously involves setting goals for ourselves as well as our team. These goals are important, and in the process of developing them, we also develop these internal expectations both for ourselves and the team around us. I think it’s important to note that, in such an endeavor, it is rare that everything goes according to plan. How we respond and come together as a team when things don’t go our way can make or break this adventure. In other words, it’s great to have expectations, but when current circumstances dictate it, it’s essential that we retain the ability to ditch these long-standing expectations and instead focus on making the best of the situation at hand.

What will make Run Across America a success?

Teamwork, communication, and dedication. Rock Star Crew Members. The difference between a good crew member and a “rock star” is the willingness to go above and beyond the ordinary call of duty, regardless of how tired, sore, or hot we feel, just like our military Heroes do every day on the battlefield. If we truly want to make this event meaningful to those that have gone above and beyond to protect our freedoms, we obviously must be willing to do so ourselves.

  • Driver, Logistics, & Social Media Assistant

Dave Dundas

David has deep expertise in growing technology-driven businesses. David is currently Founder and CEO of ChallengeBox, a company that helps people live healthier lives by using wearable data. David went to Boston college where he met George. He lives in New York City, loves traveling, and spending time with his family and friends.

Why did you decide to get involved with Run Across America / BeastMode for the Brave?

Both are powered by the idea of being a part of something that bigger than yourself, and remembering people who did the same.

What role do veterans play in your life?

My dad was an immigrant, but he went into ROTC in college and went on to work as a civilian for the military for almost 20 years. Remember spending a number of my summers growing up on Army bases. The military has always been very close to home.

What do you think will be the most challenging part of the run?

The last 2,990.

What have you learned while preparing for the run?

That George is actually crazy enough to run across the country.

What will make Run Across America a success?

If people who have put their lives on the line get a reminder that people appreciate them then RAA can be considered a success.