6/10/12 Secret Millionaires Are Chuck Runyon and Dave Mortensen of Anytime Fitness–Flexing Their Giving Muscles

Tonight’s Secret Millionaire features Chuck Runyon and Dave Mortensen of Anytime Fitness flexing a little giving muscle.

[You already know we blog America’s Got Talent here, because we believe that regular people living their dreams is worth a few words.  Heck, that’s sort of why we exist!  And, this season, we’ve decided to again blog Secret Millionaire.  Why?  Well, first, we’ve noticed some of you coming back from last season looking for the write-ups.  So there’s that.  But we also like the idea of people giving back.  And, we notice that sometimes people check in here for names and information on the groups that benefit.  So, if we can help you find some information, then that’s fine by us.  Enjoy!]

This write-up is a day late, but that’s okay.  It’s also a dollar short.  I promise, I’m no secret millionaire.  Heck, I’m not even a public millionaire.

Anyway, tonight the guys from Anytime Fitness, Chuck Runyon and Dave Mortensen, give a little.

Did they say Minnesota?  I spent my share of time in Minnesota.  Nice!  It really is a great place.  And did they just say they open a store a day?  Wow.  I can’t wait ’til they open one in my house.  That should happen soon, right?

Both guys are family men.  Both have killer houses.  Both have nice back yards!  But who cares?  If they don’t have perspective and humility, then it’s all useless.  Luckily, Runyon and Mortensen seem to understand that.  At least a little bit of it. I mean, they aren’t my boss or anything, so I don’t know, but I’m just guessing here.  It is TV after all.

So, off to Oklahoma City where 25% of kids live in poverty.  Neither guy knows anything about OKC except where to buy land for gyms.  I like their car.  It’s probably seen a lot of miles.  And a lot of OKC.

I’m glad to hear them say they’re “nervous.”  It means they’re awake.  Now, for six days in the Central Park neighborhood in a house that has, for lack of a better phrase, seen better days.

$71.03.  That’s it.  Equivalent for food stamps for a family of two.  Off to the market where reality really really sets in.  Did Dave just say he’s getting mayo?  Minneapolis dies hard, no?  I’m eatin’ it dry.

G’nite guys.


The next morning finds Runyon and Mortensen still in OKC with terrible coffee and more sandwiches.  With mayo?

OKC Youth Wrestling Foundation.  Wrestling and tutoring.  That got the fitness guys going.  They went in and met Coach Tyler Williams who gave up advertising to do it.  Williams said the important thing is to get kids involved in something other than gangs and drugs.  Shelby Bullard, former high school and college wrestler, came in to meet Runyon and Mortensen.  He says he loves working at the Youth Wrestling Foundation.  Chuck and Dave jumped right in.  The power of fitness, right?

Then, it was time for food.  So, wrestling, tutoring, clothing, and food.  Sounds like a great great program.  Everything is provided through people Williams knows.  The foundation needs $39,000/year to keep the doors open.  Williams says his kids have a lot to be angry about, including going into state custody when they’re in danger.  Williams says his neighborhood feeds a lot of the prison system.  Dave remembered a story from his childhood when a coach bought him a Big Mac, and how that stuck with him.  And, as he said, Tyler and Shelby do that everyday.



Next meal?  Looks like oatmeal and yogurt.  Then, back into the city.

Limbs for Life Foundation provides prosthetics for those in need.  Through donations, they can help 650 amputees per year.  Amy Gallegos is the professional on site who volunteers to keep costs down.  They don’t just help U.S.  amputees, but people around the world.  They re-use limbs and ship them out.  Gallegos said that insurance isn’t big on paying for prosthetics–maybe one per lifetime.  And, of course, that falls hardest on the kids.  Of course.

One guy in the shop, Charlie, says he’s had prosthetics his whole life, never knowing any different.  His mom told him to take what he had and make the most of it.  Great advice for everything, not just limbs.  Less worrying about losing things, regretting things, and screaming at the heavens.  More being grateful for what we have, looking to the future, and giving thanks!

Chuck said Charlie reminds him of his own brother who lived 13 years past when medicine said he could, and who lived his life, even with a heart condition.

That puts things in perspective, doesn’t it?

Wake up in the morning and do what you can to get on with the day.  It will be what it will be, yes, but you can be so much more present in it.


Back to the OKC Youth Wrestling Foundation to meet two young wrestlers who placed first and second in state.  Dave and Chuck worked out with the kids and got involved with tutoring, helping the kids read.  Dave and Shelby had a chance to talk to Eric, who shared that his mother passed and that he didn’t see his father much. He lives with his aunt, and says that his father now is around more.

Look, folks.  I know this is TV.  I know some of this is probably staged.  But, well, sometimes, maybe it’s more.

Anyway, Dave and Chuck were off next to play volleyball with the Limbs for Life volunteer Charlie Swearingen, who apparently is a big deal in the sport!  He’s a paralympic athlete.  They played a game of volleyball on the floor and I’m sure it was just as difficult as it looked.  They also met Connor, a boy who needs his 9th limb.  And Limbs for Life helps his family with each one.

Because of Limbs for Life, Connor has a regular childhood, full of activities we may take for granted.  If it was up to insurance, well, he wouldn’t.

Limbs for Life says they have a wait list of 200 people.  A year wait.  Funding, funding, funding.



So, how to divide the money on the last day in OKC?  What do you give to those who give and give and give and give?  That’s a hard question.

First up?  OKC Youth Wrestling Foundation.  Dave had a hard time talking about what his coach did for him.  Look, we don’t know what a positive effect we have.  But it doesn’t matter.  Just go forward and know that it happens, even when you don’t intend it.

In the end, they gave them $39,000.  A year’s sum.  Now, they can plan their future on top of that amount.

Oh, and one more thing.  A $150,000 investment by Dave and Chuck in an Anytime Fitness for Tyler and Shelby.  Wow.  That’s pretty amazing.  They’re own franchise with the help of the owners.  Change one life, change 10, change 100, change 1,000.

And so on and so forth!


Limbs for Life.

After a difficult reveal, they gave $100,000 to the organization.  Funding?  Funding.  Shrink the waiting list.  Get people walking.  All for $100k.  Not a bad deal, eh?


At the end of the show we learned that $100k bought 50 limbs for folks on the waiting list at Limbs for Life.

OKC Wrestling was able to get new uniforms and shoes for the kids, with plans for an SUV to transport the kids.

And that Anytime Fitness?  Well, that opened in December, 2011.


So, what did we learn this week?

People who walk the walk can help others to walk.

People who help others dream big sometimes get a big dream of their own.

See you down the road….



2 responses to “6/10/12 Secret Millionaires Are Chuck Runyon and Dave Mortensen of Anytime Fitness–Flexing Their Giving Muscles

  1. Camevaccross this write up as I was looking to build a larger audience for my emerging non profit. Great blog article. Thanks for the kind words. Perhaps check out our site and maybe we could get together on a project of some sort. I like your ‘opinionspiration’. Nice. Take care and keep up the fight.

    • @CS: Thank you for the comment, Charlie. It’s a pleasure to meet you. We do what we can here. In a busy life, sometimes a post for awareness is a bit of service we can provide. Best of luck in all your ventures! Maybe our paths will cross someday! In the end, it isn’t really about opinion, is it? It’s about the inspiration we bring to others. And you do that.

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