Fit To Serve

By Karen Butz de Leon, volunteer contributor, American Red Cross

As I stepped out to head to work on Monday morning, I expected the usual winter chill to sneak up my arms and give me goose bumps, but instead I was greeted with glaring sunlight and a humid warmth pressing against my face. It reassured me that summer is here, which reminded me of the different kinds of quick-fix detoxes and absurd diets that have been appearing in my social media feeds. We’ve all been told that these tricks never work, but we’re guilty of trying them anyway. After all, who has the time to get physically fit in our busy, sedentary lives?

Although losing weight is a “summer goal” for many of us, most people don’t know the difference or the importance of focusing on fitness rather than weight loss. Being physically fit will not only aid you with watching your weight, but it will help you make lifestyle changes. It will also help prevent chronic disease, build overall strength and endurance, increase your chances of living longer and, who knows, it may even help save someone’s life!

This is the case for our very own Disaster Program Manager Nolan Brethowr. Nolan has had a long-term passion for fitness and sports since middle school, and that passion led to landing roles as a Cavalry Scout in the United States Army and a Disaster Program Manager here at Red Cross DFW.

As a Disaster Program Manager for the American Red Cross, Nolan is responsible for the entire disaster services program in Tarrant County. He leads and manages a primarily volunteer team responsible for the implementation of disaster preparedness, response and recovery programs in the local area. His position is also physically demanding because, in the event of a disaster, a regular working day can turn into 16 working hours for 7-10 consecutive days.

“A year ago, we had those floods and tornadoes that started out here locally and eventually flooded the entire state,” said Nolan. “It lasted about 3 months and [my team] and I started [to become] very fatigued. If you aren’t trained, it can become very stressful and [volunteers and staff] will have to be relieved much faster.”

That experience working after the flood was just a snippet of the rigorous activity that Nolan partakes in on a daily basis.

“There are a lot of different aspects of my job that are very tough on your body and physically demanding, and in order to stay on top of that I have to train harder,” explained Nolan. “I do all different types of training [like] crossfit, and [I also have a] regular gym membership. This comes in handy because this offers me an array of different workouts that will supplement my military life.”

Staying on top of his physical fitness at home helps Nolan in case he gets deployed. As a Cavalry Scout with the U.S. Army National Guard, he could be called to serve at any time where he will be forced to react and maneuver in uncompromising situations, usually while carrying a ruck sack that can weigh over 45 pounds.

“It’s not for vanity purposes,” he said of training. “It’s for functionality and to make sure that if I’m ever in an environment that I need to rely on my strength, I don’t let my teammate down because I wasn’t doing my job when I was training.”

Because Nolan has been a dedicated trainer throughout his life, he not only maintains his health, but also serves his country through military service and helping disaster victims with the Red Cross.

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As we celebrate #MilitaryMay, we thank the men and women who have served our country for their dedication and sacrifice!

The American Red Cross provides support in many aspects including military and veteran health care facilities around the world. Learn more at

One comment

  1. This was a great article and shows how important it is to be fit for any disaster that comes along.


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