In this interview we’ve got BOTH Bill Vernon (founder of Team Ninja) and Cadre Mikey Bee (GORUCK Cadre and all around badass) here to talk about the Santa Ruck GORUCK Custom Events.
The Santa Ruck events are a huge fundraiser that Team Ninja runs to raise money for the Riley Hospital NICU. The Non-Indy events raise money for local charities so everyone who registers knows that they are helping their local community.
This will be the fourth year that Team Ninja has run this charity event and it continues to expand. This year Santa Ruck events are occurring in Indy, DC, Philly, Seattle, and St. Paul. If you’re in the area we highly recommend checking them out. If you’re not check out the donation link anyways and maybe we can get Cadre Mikey Bee to wear a Christmas-themed Speedo during the Indy event!
- GORUCK & Rucking Glossary
- Riley NICU Donation Link
- Riley NICU Donation List
- Charity Challenges Flutter Kick Challenge
- Riley NICU Donation Link
- All Day Ruckoff Store
- Riley NICU Donation Link
- Team Ninja Website
- Riley NICU Donation Link
- Santa Ruck Registration
- Riley NICU Donation Link
- GORUCK Tough Events
- Riley NICU Donation Link
- GORUCK Light Events
- Riley NICU Donation Link
- Team Ninja Store
Thanks so much for listening! If you missed any of our earlier episodes you can give them a listen right now. Hopefully you enjoyed the podcast and are excited about the next one. This is very new to us so we would appreciate it if you would cut us some slack as we work on perfecting our methodologies. Did you enjoy the podcast? We’d love a review on iTunes or even our Facebook Page! Didn’t enjoy it? Leave a comment here in the show notes and let us know what we can do better!
Brian: I’m here talking with Bill Vernon, who is the founder of the Team Ninja Ruck Club based out of Indiana; and Cadre Mikey Bee, who is an integral part of this year’s Santa Ruck and Indi Ball events. How are you guys doing today?
Bill: Good, thanks.
Mikey: Great, Brian. Thanks for having us.
Brian: Super excited to have you guys on. I was able to take part in Santa Ruck in Seattle last year, and it was amazing, and I’m just glad to hear that it went well everywhere and it’s coming back.
Bill: Yeah, we had a really good showing last year and it was something that lieu to expand out, and everybody jumped at the opportunity, so kind of keep it going.
Brian: Awesome. Before we get into the Santa Ruck event, Cadre Mikey Bee answer this questions on the previous podcast where he talked about GORUCK Selection, but I want to direct these at you, Bill. Let’s start out with your involvement in the GORUCK community. How did you even stumble upon GORUCK?
Bill: My first class was class 182 in Indianapolis in November of 2012, and back then there was no Heavy or Light, it was just the GORUCK Challenge. My brother-in-law actually found out about it first and said, “Hey, you’re doing the Spartan Races and Tough Mudders and stuff, you should do this.”
I took a look at it at the very, very limited material that was available online about this thing called the GORUCK challenge and said, “Okay, fine. I’ll do it,” and expected him to be there as well.
Back then the internet was just blank when it came to GORUCK, at least the challenge part. They didn’t want it to be publicized. They didn’t want it to be out there, and they wanted it to be this unknown. In my head I’m thinking the worst of the worst. It’s going to be nothing more than a drill sergeant yelling at us making us do pushups till we puked. You get ready. You wrap your bricks. You take a pool of laps around the neighborhoods, see how it holds up and over-pack like everybody else does on their first one. We headed out. I actually talked to my brother in doing this as well as one of our friends, and she was practicing and getting ready for this as well. Very much all doing the same thing, trying to do as much of our normal workouts as possible just with our ruck.
Until the day comes, we get to the circle, downtown Indy, and my brother-in-law was a no show, so the three of us ended up with the event. We had Bo as our cadre, and it was eye-opening. All we had to do for our “welcome party” was one perfect pushup in sync for the entire class. It took us well over an hour of just doing pushups to get one pushup. That right there — Finally, just the step-off. Once we got it done and to step-off. It couldn’t have been at a better time. Everybody’s feeling great, and then we spent the entire night going through areas of Indianapolis that I didn’t know existed, under bridges, through rivers, carrying logs. Where have you found these logs? I have no idea. I told everyone not to do this event. This is something you don’t want to do, “Oh! I want to do it. Sign me up. When is the next one?” “All right, fine. I’ll do another one.” I did one with a handful of more friends.
Again, it sucked. It was horrible, but everybody else wanted to do it, so we ended up getting our own custom Light. At that point, Lights had come out. It was Ranger Jason Jay, and it was his first “Light”. All he’d done prior to that were heavy. We got a Heavy-Light, and it killed us, and we still came back for more. That’s my intro at GORUCK, and we’ve had — I don’t know, so many events here locally and we’ve probably had 300, 400 Ninjas go through GORUCK events at this point.
Brian: The question I’ve got is did your brother-in-law ever do an event?
Bill: No. No, he has never done an event. He’s more of a triathlon, kind of running kind of guy. The idea of putting a weighted ruck on his back would probably snap him in two.
Brian: Oh! Well, I’m glad he convinced you to signup, because I’m guessing that without him doing that you would have taken a much longer time to find GORUCK and you might not be as far along as you are with getting all the awesome stuff you’re doing and going. Even if he didn’t show up for an event, thank you to Bill’s brother-in-law.
Bill: There you go, Jeff. There’s your callout.
Mikey: Hey, Jeff — Jeff should at least come out and do the Santa Ruck. Kids do it for Pete’s sake, Jeff. I’m calling you out right now, Jeff.
Bill: I think we’re going to have to force that a little bit.
Brian: There you go, Jeff. Come out, do the Santa Ruck.
Mikey: How many events does your sister does, Jeff? Oh, man! That’s a low blow bro. Just throwing it out there.
Brian: That’s awesome. At what point did Team Ninja start? Was that around before you started doing GORUCK events, or was that formed after you had already done a couple?
Bill: Actually, Team Ninja started about a year prior, so it’s 2011. We were getting ready to do a Spartan, and that’s actually how Team Ninja started, was all around Spartan Races and OCRs in general, or obstacle course races. I wanted to do a Spartan, and so they said that if you signed up a group of 15 or more, you get $5 off. All we had to do is create a “team”.
And so I created this team and I had a group of people from my taekwondo school, and so we were all going to go to the every first Indiana Spartan together. As I’m filling out the firm on the Spartan website, I’m yelling out to Carli, “Okay, I need a team name. It’s going to be everybody from taekwondo school. What do you want to name it?” She came back immediately with, “What about Team Ninja?”
In a 10-second conversation, the name came up and Team Ninja was born. We started there. We did the Indiana Spartan, the very first race of Spartan Race in Indiana with — It was 21 of us. Right after that we found out there’s more of these events, and we pretty much got hooked right then and there. We found out that there are more of these events nationwide, and so we started doing some local races. We were doing 5Ks, we’re doing Color Runs, we’re doing Tough Mudders and more and more Spartans, and then they created that whole trifecta thing, so then we started doing lots of those and we were travelling cross-country to go do Spartans.
Then we got into the GORUCK scene, and so I started really pushing for that and getting people to do those and then we’re back on Spartan and Tough Mudder. Then we started half marathons, full marathons, and as we’re expanding out, we’re taking our tents. So we got these really 20×10 customized popup tent and we’d take that to events and not really pushing the team. More like just going as a place to crash and have people come up and, “Oh! Hey, I want to be a ninja.” “Okay. Go to our Facebook page. Everything is there. It doesn’t cost anything to join. Cool! You’re in. Now you can sit on our tent, done.”
We just had people signing up from there and we have people — As we’re traveling around, we had people in different cities signing up and joining us, and so we started kind of making these mini chapters across the country and it’d be just little groups of ninjas that would get together to do their own workouts or some would only get together every time a race came into town or a GORUCK event came into town. It’s more or less little specialized, but it grew from there and now we’re well over 2,500 members.
Brian: That’s amazing. Congratulations, guys.
Brian: That’s awesome. Who would have thought?
Bill: Thank you. Not me. I didn’t plan on any of it. I still try to do as little as possible to let the group decide on some things and where the actual team goes and is organized as such. Whatever people want to do we do, and that’s the whole motto of Team Ninja is get up and do something new. Whether it’d be you want to go for a walk or you want to do an Ironman or — That’s kind of two completely — I’d go from one side of the spectrum to the other there, but everything in between. All you have to do is post it on our Facebook group, say, “Hey, there’s an event coming up. It’s a Color Run. I want to go do that,” and see if somebody wants to go with you. Nobody wants to do these things for the first time by themselves. That’s one way just to get people out, get theme empowered to be able to do it by having somebody there with them. It could be a Tough Mudder, it could be a triathlon. It could be going out to do your first half marathon. Well, you need a training partner to get you out of bed in the morning and hold you accountable to get out there and running. That’s primarily what it’s all about. We’re an all-encompassing group of outdoor athletes, we call it.
Brian: I like that. That’s awesome. I’ll definitely put links to everything in the show notes so that if there’s people looking to join up, they’ll know where to go.
One of the custom events you guys were on is a yearly event. It’s called Santa Ruck, and it was just a GORUCK Light, and I think last year was the first year you guys added the GORUCK Tough, but I know it’s back again this year. What was the first year that started and why did you decide to create this event?
Bill: Let’s see. We started in 2014, it was a Light, and Cadre Jesse led that. It was a regular GORUCK Light. Nothing special other than we had some special props. Still, all adult is doing it. It’s still the full speed down, but you made it fun. I think it was just the 35 people from a normal custom event. We had a fairly good group, but it wasn’t anything huge, but the people that it affected — It’s a charity event, so we give all the money that comes from the event, plus the gifts and stuff that we bring to Riley Children’s Hospital, which is the Indiana Children’s Hospital. It’s the biggest one in the state, in particular the NICU unit; neonatal intensive care.
We both do gifts in the sense. It’s not wrapped toys and presents and stuff like that. It’s gifts that the hospital could actually use. We get a list from Riley from every year of what they need. What are they short on? They get millions and millions of dollars from corporate events and big stuff like that, but what does this unit, what do they particularly need that the general population can go out and supply?
We go out and buy what they need, and those are our gifts to them, because the kids in the neonatal unit of varying different ages, they can’t get a stuff there, because the allergens that are there and all the other — You can’t pass them along. The stuff that they get is specialized. We’ll go out and buy some stuff for them and then that goes into our sleigh, and we’ve got a huge nine-foot long, weighs about 300 pounds sleigh that we carry around. In place of a log, we get that. Then we’ve got some additional stuff from there.
We started in 2014 with Cadre Jesse. 2015 saw another Light and that year it got even bigger, and we decided that we’re going to make this a family event. We started adding — If you sign up as an adult, you can bring as many kids as you want, and they’re all free. We had about — I want to say about 250 people at that event, and then 2016 — Yeah, 2016, JC Jordan was the cadre, and that was the first year that we introduced the Tough. That was an experience. That was a full Tough, again, but then the next morning is the Light, which is more family fun. We can get back again to that later.
Then Team Mikey Bee, is it? Again, we’re going to have a huge Light and it will be a family friendly event. Again, kids are free, and the swag that comes out of these events is second to none, and that’s part of what makes this fun on my part, is that Carli and I, my wife, we get to try to design up and prep out all of the logo material. Everybody gets a swag bag when they register, and so you get t-shirts and you may get a hat, you may get a sweatshirt, you may get this, you may get that. I’m not sure what’s coming in this year. You’ll just have to show up and find out.
To see that many people with all of our gear on, doing this event — And the kids get gear too. They get everything just like a normal person, what the adults get. See that many people, 200, 300 people all singing songs underneath the Christmas tree at Riley or carrying in a huge 12-foot long candy cane/pipe. It’s very good and we hope to continue this event for many, many more years.
Brian: That’s awesome, man. That’s such a wonderful thing to do. Provide so much to the NICU unit. That’s such a tough spot for the people who work there, I’m sure, because that’s just got to be very emotional especially that time of year. Thank you. You guys deserve —
Bill: You’re welcome. If you get a chance — Even if people gets a chance, through your link down at the bottom. If they’re interested, I’m going to post the list that Riley gave me. I’m going to post it on the Santa Ruck page, and people can go in and take a look, see all the stuff that we go out and buy, because every person that does the event, they’re required to bring one of these items, one of these bags. They have color-coded bags based off of the different areas of need within the NICU.
Every person brings one of these bags. Last year they had these big containers on rollers. They’re about six feet wide and three-feet deep and we filled three of them with these bags, and they wouldn’t even fit. Everything wouldn’t fit in the sleigh, so we had people run with them. We had to carry them. We had entire trash bags full of them just to keep them dry. It was amazing the amount of stuff that we took to these events, and it probably took us a good 45 minutes just to unload everything, and the bags, the gifts kept coming and coming and we had all of our Riley’s reps in tears because of so much that they received.
Brian: That’s amazing. That would be for this year coming up, where are Santa Ruck events occurring this year?
Bill: Last year we expanded out to Seattle, D.C. and Philadelphia, and they had a great time and everybody is coming back, plus we’re adding St. Paul, Minnesota. We’ve got Seattle, St. Paul, D.C., Indi and Philly.
Brian: Congratulations on the expansion. That’s awesome.
Bill: Yeah, it has everything to do with the GORUCK community. All it takes is one person to say, “Hey, that looks like a ton of fun and we have our local children’s charity that we could raise some money for. Let’s do it and set them up.” They’re the ones that have to do the local organization. If you want one in your city, I’ll help out and do what I can from here, but it really takes local, I guess, boots on the ground to get the events to go. My hat goes off to them every year for the reps that run these events in all these different cities, and the idea that it’s really handling out.
The other thing that I do ask is that you actually do the event one year and then I’ll help you set up for the next year if you want to have one in your town. Yeah, we’re doing Lights in every city. D.C. is doing a Tough and a Light, and then Indi gets our own special event, plus a Light.
Brian: Which city is Cadre Mikey Bee going to be at?
Bill: Mikey Bee, all Indi. He is in charge of the Indi events this year.
Mikey: I will only do Indianapolis for Santa Rucks, and I’m sorry to everybody else, because I’m from the area originally. My mom and stepdad participated in the Team Ninja event. My cousin’s daughter actually passed away there in 2006 from a really rare leukemia, so I didn’t know much about it. I was deployed at the time, but anything I can do to give back to my own community. Kind of like what we talked in the last podcast where GORUCK is this overarching community, right? Team Ninja is like my specific hometown GRT kind of community, if that makes any sense.
Brian: Absolutely. Absolutely, it does. I hear for 2017 there’s a theme for the Santa Ruck events, and I heard it’s Snowman. Can you dive a little into where the name of that came from and why this event will be themed this year?
Mikey: Every year, Bill started out with just a basic logo. What was the first year? Like an Elf, or was it Santa Claus? I forgot which one.
Bill: It was ninja as a Santa Claus. Our ninja guy or mascot.
Mikey: Yeah, it was like ninja Santa Claus, right? Then the next year it turned ninja Santa Claus with an elf. Then the next year, another elf. Then now this year the logo is going to have the ninja snowman in the forefront. This year’s theme is snowman all across the country for the Santa Ruck.
With that being said, some of the cadre in Indianapolis may or may not be dressed as snowman. You may or may not have to carry a snowman that the cadre made for you, maybe at Atlas ball. I don’t know. We’re going to get crazy with it.
I can’t tell you this about the Indianapolis event. This year is going to be different than the other events. We’re showing up with our big beach speakers that run on batteries, and if everybody sings with Christmas cheer, we’ll have fun. If you don’t sing with Christmas cheer for all hear, Mocha will be dressed as Krampus and he will appear, and Krampus loves PT and he will smoke the bags out of you and your little chit ones and it will be fun. Learn you Christmas carols between now and then.
Brian: That is going to be amazing. Cramp is — Oh!
Mikey: Yeah. This is going to continue on too. Every year we add a new character to the patch, so this will be the four years, our fourth year. That’s where Snowman comes from, and then next year, who knows? Maybe the Grinch shows up. It’s all the big white snow and then hopefully — Actually, hopefully one of these years actually will have snow.
Mikey: It was cold enough last year, okay?
Bill: Remember Machine is from Miami. He is coming from Miami, and I told him it was going to be warm according to the farmer’s almanac. I didn’t even look. I told him it was going to be warm this year, since it was cold last year.
Brian: Yeah, he’s going to be happy.
Mikey: What’s funny is that with machine, I think Aaron is more excited to get the gun than actually doing the event. Yeah. They’re all coming for the ball and staying for the event. I’ve sent out some big time request for this ball as well. I sent out a request to Billy Waugh. If you don’t know who Billy Waugh is, Google the name. He’s the guy who’s got the Jackal, one of the very first Green Berets was in the agency for a while. He’s one of the first guys ever do surveillance on Osama Bin Laden
Back in 1979. Really great dude. Great American. Haven’t heard back yet, but hopefully we can get guys like Billy Waugh to come out and be the guest speaker.
Brian: That will be wild.
Mikey: really trying to push this ball. If this thing takes off and does really well, we’d love to try to expand out and send the format out to other cities next year, because it’s a great way to raise money and it’s low threat and it’s a great way to bring people into this community.
Brian: Absolutely. I truly I hope the best for it, because I would love to see a ball here in Seattle sometime. It’s a little selfish, but I hope it goes amazing for you guys.
[0:26:43.5]Bill: Whatever we get, charities, Riley, they get 10 times. All these money that we’re raising for — Let’s put it this way. Everything from the auction is being donated. One way or another, these kids are going to get some big bucks from this, hopefully. We raise a little over $13,000 last year. We’re well on our way to 15,000 this year. We actually had one donor step up and donated $5,500 in cash just a couple of weeks ago, and that just completely unreal and we’re so thankful.
I will do the event in a Santa Claus speedo if we hit 30,000 bucks this year. I will do the entire event, the 30,000 bucks, in a speedo.
Brian: If we can raise —
Mikey: For the kids, man.
Brian: $30,000 for the kids, Cadre Mikey Bee will do the event in a Santa speedo and this I’m sorry machine, this is not going to be a warm event. I want everyone to know right now. This is December in Indiana, so it is going to be cold. A speedo, all right.
Mikey: A speedo, 30,000 bucks. That’s not how much Bill has in the account to pay for events and everything. That’s a giant big $30,000 check I get to hand to Riley’s in a speedo with Bill. That’s what needs to happen.
Brian: That does need to happen. I need a picture of that.
Mikey: I’ll give you the link, so you can click on it anytime you want to check on that current balance, because unlike a lot of other events where we collect all the money and then give it to Riley eventually. When people donate to Riley, we give them the Riley donation link. We don’t touch the money, and plus then they can get all the tax benefits from it too.
For getting to the Mikey Bee’s level of donation to do this. We want everybody to feel 100% sure that their money is going exactly where they want it and they can get all the benefits from it as well.
Brian: There you go, and that link will definitely be in the show notes, at least two or three or seven times.
Mikey: If we had 30,000, dude, I will wear a speedo for those kids. If you guys don’t know, the first year in 2015 I did this with Bill. What was the number I said? 10 grand? I forgot what it was. You raise 10 grand, I’ll wear a pink bunny costume. None of the other cadre did.
Bill: We did that one.
Mikey: It was one my deal with Bill and I wore the pink bunny pajamas from a Christmas story for 10 grand. You want to see me in a Speedo, it’s got to be 30,000 and one cent.
Bill: I don’t know if anybody can really say they want to see you in a speedo.
Brian: How much you have to pay to cover it up?
Bill: Haha raise the money. 32,000 then.
Brian: Yeah, 32,000 and they’ll cover it up.
Mikey: It would scare the kids, okay? I got it.
Bill: Yeah, we’ll make sure you’ll robe you when we have to go into the hospital. I love that.
Mikey: Yeah, or I could just stand outside and be cold the whole time.
Brian: There we go. Maybe if we hit 30 grand, for an extra 5 grand we’ll get to choose a special robe for you to wear.
Mikey: Sexy santa robe. How about that? Hey, if we hit 25 grand, I will let the kids shave my head at the event, 25 grand, straight up, just hair, and I love my hair.
Brian: This is getting better already.
Mikey: Yeah. Okay, the kids, man. 25 grand, you can shave my head. Everybody gets a swipe.
Bill: I’d step up right there with you, but I’m already bald, so it doesn’t really do. It doesn’t have quite the effect, but that’s freaking awesome. We’ll do that one.
Mikey: Hey, I’ll throw Mocha in there. 25 grand, you can shave Mocha and I both, because I know Mocha is down. I wouldn’t do that at the machine. Actually, you know what? As lead cadre — No, I’m not going to do that. It’s a low blow. I know Mocha would totally shave his head, let the kids shave his head.
Brian: That’s going to be great.
Mikey: Hey, and I challenge all the other cadre out there to like do some silly stuff to raise some money.
Bill: Yeah, we need to hear from those other cities too.
Mikey: There’s no shame in it. FTK, for the kids.
Brian: No shame at all. What are you most excited about for the upcoming Santa Ruck events in Indi?
Mikey: Oh, man! I’m excited for so many things. One, I’m a little sad that the kids rucks the brats, rebels, all that stuff — Those kind of faded away over the last 12, 18 months, and like this is a great event to get kids outdoors and to do something and to connect with kids, one; and to do something great for the community, two. Then three — Man! I get to see some of my best friends that I haven’t seen all year, like I get Mocha. I get to hang out with Mocha. I get to hang out with Jesse in the past. It’s kind of like a homecoming for me. I get to see my family, and then all my SF brothers is there to cadre with me. It’s really awesome.
What makes this year different than the last is when Bill asked me to do the event, to be the head cadre for it. I said, “That’s awesome, Bill, but we’re not going to do a Tough.” He’s kind of taken back when I said that and I was like, “The main event is us taking those sleighs to the children’s hospital, and that’s what the Light does. The Tough is just a traditional type of Tough event with the Christmas theme and do it the day before.”
The guys, the heart of the ninja crew did the entire Tough, and then the next morning they looked like death warmed over. It didn’t have the same vibe as the year before, the same amount of energy and enthusiasm, but I know there’s still enthusiasm there, but guys were a little slugging because they had to spin up all night and get their tooth kicked in. I asked Bill, “Let’s do something different instead.”
Knowing how busy how Bill is, because I’m pretty well-engaged with the Team Ninja guys, I know Bill starts usually after like the Christmas in July sale from GORUCK. Bill usually starts like — I hate to say this, for lack of better terms, like Bill Starts panhandling for a Santa Ruck like July, and Carli has kind of talked to me about it in the past. I’ll try to get sponsors, find people to participate and to really push the ball down the court. I wanted to see if I could try to bring something that’s bridging that gap once again for my hometown community. I wanted to bring the ball. Friday night we do a ball where it’s non-threatening. It’s a fun night to close out the year for Team Ninja.
We get together and we show a couple of vignettes and videos and whatnot that the ninjas have done over the last year as well as like just the camaraderie of friendship. Then we’ll piggy back on top of that a silent auction along the walls during this ball, this fancy formal type of dinner and we’ll do a silent auction, that way Bill doesn’t have to be out there panhandling and kind of bearing this huge burden alone. We as a community can take on those burden together, like kind of ties a bow around it. We can talk more about the ball and why do we do it in December and what the ball is all about here in a little bit.
Brian: That’s great. Is this the first year that it will have been for the ball?
Mikey: Yeah, this will be the first year.
Brian: Bill, how did you feel when you told Mikey Bee that you wanted him to be the head cadre and he said no Tough?
Bill: It was something that everybody was looking forward to, and they all want to do a Tough and a Light, because everyone wants to go backtrack. We didn’t make a lot of charity money off of the first Tough, which it was just something new, so we had to limit the number of people that were in. I was thinking and hoping that we would have stand out on it, make it bigger, and it would be a good maturity point right there.
In that microsecond of saying no, I kind of sunk, and it worried me a little bit. He’s like, “No, but I got another idea.” I go, “All right.” Then he started warming up to this and I was like, “Okay. This is way, way outside of my knowledge-base, and I’ve got the Light to get ready for. You know what? Let’s do it. We just need a little help. I’ll wear a Tux, but I can’t be the main point for this one, because I don’t know what is going to happen. We had the girls step up, Carli, my wife, Amy Dixon, Angie Rich, they all stepped up and are now leading the charge with Mikey to get these things set up.
Brian: That’s awesome. That sounds like it’s going to be quite the event. Do you want to take it away, Mikey?
Mikey: Yeah. It’s kind of a tradition every holiday, like around — In the military, the month of December, it’s pretty much like set aside for family time, but before everybody splits off on Christmas vacation we always do this big military ball. What the ball — That’s the one time a year, like on an SF Team, like you get to see your buddies that you’ve grown up with, that maybe on your sister team or another team. It’s the only time that everybody is really home throughout the year is Christmas time.
In the first Special Forces group where I grew up, the holiday ball or the Christmas ball, or whatever they call it now, is this huge, huge formal, right? It’s like got a lot of military traditions to it, and it’s very formal upfront with the protocol that takes place as a receiving line people walk through. There’s a specific dress code. The flags are marched in. We’ll have a POW MIA table. We’ll talk about the history behind different stuff. Militarily, we’ll play all the different songs, render honors to the flag, go into a specific order of like toast for a military formal ball. Then once formal procedures are done, then we’ll kind of digress into like a war story type of environment where a few of the cadre will get up, share a couple of war stories while people continue to bid on the silent auction.
Then at the same time it gives people an excuse to get dressed up, man, and you get to kind of close out the year, wrap a bow around it, like, “Hey, this is where we started.” Like the Santa Ruck, I’ve already started working on a little bit of a video for it. This is everything that ninjas have done since the last Santa Ruck until tonight and just go through all the events, all the memories and just tie a bow around it and kind of close up the year for the ninjas as well as, “Hell, man! You get to go put on your Sunday best and show up and have a good time with your friends and adult for one night.”
Brian: You can’t beat that.
Mikey: Plus, it’s something different, right? It bridges the gap. It’s a military-style ball. It bridges the gap and brings people into our world just for one night, and all the money goes to charities. It’s a guilt-free kind of night. We’re going to have a full bar. Everybody will get a couple of drink coupons when they come. We’re working on a guest speaker right now, but it’s probably going to be somebody. Right now we’re looking at people from like the Vietnam ear to come in and tell their war stories, because you get to hear our war stories every event that you come out to. We’re trying to find some big names and some local heroes to come out and share their stories.
Brian: That sounds like it’s really going to be a unique and memorable experience. It sounds like everyone’s putting a ton of effort, a ton of work into it. It’s not going to be something that you can find out at any other GORUCK event or even any other custom. It’s going to be truly special for this time of year and for everyone involved.
Mikey: The building that we’re using is the — I don’t know if I’m saying this right, but the RAF Skelter. Is that how you say it, Bill? I assume it is.
Mikey: The RAF Skelter. It’s a really old building. Got a tour of it. It’s gorgeous on the inside. We have a huge ball of room set up. It’s already laid on, but even the history of the building we’re going to be in is pretty cool. It’s an old — It was a German consulate at one point in time for the Midwest. It’s a really cool building, and it was like a German club and then it was a community center. It’s a really old historic building. The venue is great. I’m going to be MC-ing the whole thing. If you watch the Selection videos, you know it’s going to be full of amazing one-liners. There’s no kids allowed, and it’s going to be a fun night of adulting and you get to dress up and come and have fun.
The cadres that are going to be there, it’s going to be myself, it’s going to be Mocha, Machine will be there, Heath, and JC. Did I miss anybody? Oh, and Josh. The guys are still active duty, we’re going to be in our dress blues. Come by, take some picture with us. It’s going to be fun. You get to come hang out with a cadre while we’re all dressed up like Mexican general, looking all fancy, and it’d be a fun night. We still have 35 tickets available and I’m pretty sure after this podcast they’re going to go pretty quick. Check that link below and come on out.
Brian: Does this occur the night before the GORUCK Light?
Mikey: Yeah, it’s going to start at 6 p.m. the night before. 6 p.m. is like start time. Myself and Amy Dixon are going to take the microphone and we’re going to MC this thing, and it’s going to be pretty funny, kind of like an Emmy’s style. A lot of jokes back and forth before and her and I, probably hazing and harassing guys in the audience as well. Then at about 10, 10:30, it will end. Everybody will part ways. They have a private little VIP section outback where people that want to continue to stay and hangout and have beers, if you’re doing a Light the next day or whatever, go downstairs, hangout in there, ballroom/dance floor.
Brian: It sounds amazing. Like Mikey and Bill said, as of a time we’re recording this there’s only 35 tickets left, so I’m guessing when this is posted there will be less. If you’re listening to this, you’re in the Indiana area or planning on travelling there in the early December, then check those links and figure out if you can still get in there.
How many tickets were sold to begin with? What’s the max capacity?
Mikey: A hundred is our max capacity for the event. There’s going to be some pretty cool swag that comes with the ball alone. Some of the cadre are bringing some stuff to give out to people that attend. I know somebody was talking about getting some of their own personal coins made just for that night. All the cadre are kind of — They get into this ball spirit and like want to bring you guys into this tradition that we kind of grown up with our entire adult lives.
You’re going to get to bid on stuff that you can’t touch anywhere else too. I’m bringing — I know this sounds gross, but I’m bringing my deployment boots. I wore the same set of boots on all my deployments. There’s blood and junk all over them. If you were a size 9-1/2, come on out and bid on them. I’m going to have my own basket that’s going to have books, like my recommended reading list, a bunch of shooting stuff, some 80% lowers, a bunch of different stuff. I’m going to make my own cadre basket.
I know Machine is making his as well, and Mocha is going to be bringing some stuff. There’s going to be guns auctioned off. There would be all kinds of stuff, all kinds of swag, rucking gear. I know we got some rucks to auction off. If you’re looking for a cool, unique stuff that you can’t tough anywhere else, a memorabilia for GORUCK and the GRT community, come on out and bid on this stuff and have a fun night.
Brian: There you have it, stuff you can’t get anywhere else. The only place is here, so check those links. You’re not going to regret it.
Mikey: Heck, man! You can get a flight to Indianapolis for like 215 bucks round trip if you buy it now.
Brian: It’s true. Midwest is not that expensive to fly to. No excuses. How are you feeling about this, Bill? Are you excited?
Bill: Oh! Over the moon. This is going to be awesome. Just talking to — I’m out, I am panhandling for everything else for the event in itself, but the ball — As soon as I mentioned the ball, my current corporate sponsors, their eyes lit up. Man, I’ve even landed a few just because of the ball. We’ve got a local gun range that’s now a sponsor as well as their gun shop. We will have them on site filling out the necessary forms in order to have the people that come to the event. They’ll be able to walk out with any of the firearms that they win.
Brian: That’s incredible. That’s not something you see often at all.
Mikey: It’s an event where like — That’s a whole another facet that Bill brought up is the fact that now, it’s something not scary that we can invite people to. Does that make sense? Hey, I’m not going to kick your teeth and make you do pushups and bear cross the next six hours. But hey, we’re just going to come. The fence is going to be down. We’re human. We’re going to have fun with you guys and relax. That’s something that he can invite the sponsors out too, where it’s very low-threat and they can kind of see what they’re getting and what they’re investing into. They can touch it without having to deal with any of the scary GORUCK welcome party stuff.
Brian: Very nice, and I can’t wait to see how this all turns out.
Bill: You should come out, Brian. You should come out. Get a babysitter. Come on out.
Brian: I’ll look into it.
Last time you’re on, Mikey, you had some awesome shout outs at the end of the episode. Do you have any more this time?
Mikey: We don’t have any shout outs besides I love Bill, I love Team Ninja. They do great things outside of GORUCK for their communities. I encourage all the other GORUCK communities to start doing something bigger than share an event. When you’re doing your community service projects, look at something bigger that’s going to change people’s lives or change someone’s trajectory in life. Don’t just — I don’t know, “We picked up trash on the beach.” That’s a great community service project and all, but we’re all better than that, so let’s start thinking bigger as a GORUCK community and looking at doing something ethic that changes people’s lives.
Brian: There you have it. Why about you, Bill, anyone that you want to plug or give a shout out to?
Bill: I got to thank my wife. Carli Vernon is probably more of the actual worker of this group than myself. In her heart she does way more than I do. I got to thank her. I got to thank my local crew. They’re always stepping up to lead the workouts, lead events, help with all of our charity stuff we’re doing for Riley. I’ve got tons of names, but they all know who they are. I’m good there.
I got to thank GORUCK for giving me so much leeway and putting these events on, because — I don’t know, I think we break at least six to ten of their diehard custom event rules every time I say, “Hey guys, can we do one more thing for this or whatnot?” They give me a lot of leash when it comes to doing this. Gotta thank them and for their continued support of the Indianapolis area and allowing us to do our thing, like custom events and fad and, “Hey, have you ever guys ever thought about doing one of these and then using these as the test bed for it?”
We get tons of stuff and I think it’s just because we’ve got enough people here that kind of trust, ruck kind of trusts me that it will be a good event. When you see those kind of beta events that are kind of just the idea in my head coming to fruition. Those are the cool ones to jump in on, because they usually have some really cool ideas that may or may not ever hit the public again. That’s my big shout out to my crew.
Brian: We might need to have another episode sometimes, Bill, where we talk about all the firearms day events you’ve had going on there. For those who are listening and don’t know, Bill has had a ton of firearms events with Team Ninja in Indi, and the majority of them are custom and it’s where a lot of — I don’t know, maybe GORUCK tries out a lot of their ideas combined with Bill’s ideas into these new events. I think that’s where some of the newer firearms day events, like Force on Force and the team ones came from. We’ll have to chat sometimes.
Mikey: Can I jump in on that real quick and just kind of wrap that up for you?
Mikey: It’s not a ding on anybody else or any other crew that’s out there. Brian up in Cleveland, he does a lot of amazing custom events as well, but the reality of it is, Bill, is super vocal. He knows what he wants, ask for it and then we tent his enthusiasm with reality and tailor something that fits this crazy idea that Bill has. If you got a crazy idea out there for a custom event, reach out to HQ. Start walking the dog on it, and if it’s too crazy, we’ll do it and tailor it to be something that’s probably 70% to 80% of what you’re looking for based off of time and money and safety constraints obviously.
Brian: There you have it.
Thank you guys, Bill, Mikey. Just thank you so much for taking nearly an hour out of your day to talk with me about this. I had an amazing time last year at Santa Ruck. I’ll be at Santa Ruck again this year in Seattle, wouldn’t miss it. You guys are doing amazing things both with what it sounds like the ball will be and just everything you do for the charities and all the local communities that are having the Santa Ruck events. It’s just phenomenal.
For those listening, I’m going to have the links to the locations, to the Team Ninja website. I believe there’s also a patch on the Team Ninja site that you can buy just to support the Santa Ruck, and I’m pretty sure that’s the case, because I bought one a couple of days ago when I picked up the Mikey Bee set.
Even if you’re not able to make an event, you can still donate money. You can still buy a patch to support the event, or you can even just let people know if you got friends out in those areas that are ruckers, point them their way and get them signed up for something that will be truly memorable.
Thank you guys, again. This was really fun and I truly appreciate it.
Bill: Yeah, thanks Brian. Thanks for having us.
Mikey: Thank you.