Mel during her GORUCK 9/11 Light Challenge

Maria Deligiannis

Southbury, CT

Event: Spartan Sprint - Tri-State NY

Date: August 26, 2017

"I can either fall apart and become a shell of my former self with nothing to give to anyone, or I can L-I-V-E and show my kids that no matter what life throws at you, you can have the strength of character and heart, and the perseverance, to live a full and happy life."

Maria's "Why"

I really don't like to start off with this description because I don't believe it's what defines who I am, but it is certainly the reason why I find myself here, doing this, at this very moment. I am a 31-year old widow. 

Six months ago--on our six-year wedding anniversary--I lost my husband Kirk very suddenly and unexpectedly right after he secured at an event called Sealfit Kokoro, which is modeled after Navy Seal Hell Week. He was 31 years old and we had two sons together who were 1 and almost 3 years old at the time. He was tremendously athletic and had dedicated much of his free time to helping others "forge their mettle" through his start-up, Mettle Forger, and through Charity Challenges, a partnership with a friend of his which donates it's proceeds to charities supporting US veterans. 

I still remember vividly the feeling in my gut as I was interrupted while putting my oldest to bed that night because two officers were at my door asking specifically for me. I was completely blindsided. In an instant, the future we had been visualizing–that Kirk and I were working so tirelessly to achieve–turned into a fog. But I was 30! I had two babies! Life couldn't end there! We're here. We're alive! That is a gift! And no one knows what tomorrow will bring! I took a hard look at myself and asked, what am I made of, deep in my core? At this devastating and crucial time in my life, what will I do? Forget prior conversations, forget beliefs and principles. This is all happening NOW. And right now, I can either fall apart and become a shell of my former self with nothing to give to anyone, or I can L-I-V-E and show my kids that no matter what life throws at you, you can have the strength of character and heart, and the perseverance, to live a full and happy life.

So I kept it together, and am still somehow keeping it together six months out--my body won't let me do otherwise. Anything else would just mean taking everything that has happened and making it exponentially worse. I felt strongly about keeping Mettle Forger going--but in a new chapter--and help out with Charity Challenges. I turned to fitness, somewhat accidentally as the community reached out to me after everything happened. I wasn't really into fitness before, although I was generally active and was very involved in Kirk's fitness-related endeavors. But it has been a way for me to feel Kirk's presence and to better my lifestyle for myself and for my kids...and I genuinely enjoy it. 

I get to the gym most nights after putting the kids to bed and tidying up because I'm committed to my training and it feels great to see the progress I'm making. But I'm tired, a lot of things get done at a much slower pace than I would like, and I encounter setbacks. And that's hard for me because I set very high standards for myself, but I keep moving forward. There are things we can't change, like the past, but we can choose how to move forward and that's what I'm doing. I know I'll make it. I've thought a lot about how I could've waited until I emerge out of this to share my experience. But it just wouldn't be the same--that's the safer route, where I can back out and no one would know. Instead, I'm holding myself accountable for my actions by putting myself out there. This is me, now--flaws, weaknesses...and strengths. 

It Takes a Village

On my journey, I'm hoping to inspire others who are going through a tough time. Everyone's situation is unique, but I think we can all find a way to forge through the tough times that test our character and have have those times bring out the best in us.

I will share my journey in preparing for this event--the ups and the inevitable downs--together with my lessons learned. This is completely out of my comfort zone, but instead of being scared, I'm excited. I know I will come out stronger, more confident and with more tools to kick butt on my journey. ...And ready for the next challenge!

#liveforaliving in motion

If money wasn't an object, what would I change?

I left my career as an attorney right before our first child was born to focus on our quality of life, and it was the best decision I made looking back and knowing now that those were the last three years of Kirk's life. There are a few career goals that are on hold as I transition into this new chapter of my life, and I think a lot about where my current path will lead me in that respect. But I know that whatever I do, I plan to L-I-V-E my life, create amazing memories and hopefully make the world a better and happier place. My main focus these days are making sure my grieving toddlers feel secure, taking care of myself, and continuing on with Kirk's work with Mettle Forger and Charity Challenges.

Want to get involved?

Do you know someone who embodies the Live for a Living spirit deserving of sponsorship? Maybe you would you like to offer your support? Learn more about #LLSP on the Live for a Living Sponsorship Program page, and get involved. You're only changing the world with us. That's all...