CHICO, Calif. - Chico firefighters hosted hundreds of people during a workout Saturday that raised thousands of dollars for servicemen and women in honor of a local man and his fellow soldiers who lost their lives in a 2005 combat mission.
The Operation Red Wings Memorial Workout is named after a 2005 combat mission in Afghanistan where 19 service members lost their lives.
The 2007 best-selling book "Lone Survivor" was written by the only man to live through the ordeal, Petty Officer Marcus Luttrell.
A blockbuster film adaptation of the book came out last year.
Luttrell and three other U.S. Navy SEALs were part of a special team who got caught in a firefight in the area of Asadabad, Afghanistan.
One of Luttrell's fellow SEALs was Chico man Matthew Axelson.
Saturday, Chico firefighters hosted more than 200 people during a Cross-Fit style workout at Norcal Strength and Conditioning in south Chico.
Firefighters say they were inspired by the story of "Lone Survivor" and wanted to do something to aid the Matthew Axelson Foundation, which provides services to active and fallen serviceman and their families.
"We just wanted to raise awareness for local veterans and one of those veterans is Mathew Axelson who was killed in operation red wings in 2005 in Afghanistan," said event organizer and Chico Captain Ryan Fellers. "And we just wanted to support the community and raise some money for them."
Axelson's widow, Cindy Oji, still lives in the community and works at the gym.
She was excited when Chico firefighters reached out to her and surprised at what the response has been.
"They are the ones who came to us about a month ago and asked if we would want to host it and the owners here at Norcal were like, 'Absolutely, we should have this here," Oji said. "What was going to be maybe just 50 people turned out to be hundreds that came out to support."
The event was free to the public, with donations accepted.
On top of the donations, tshirts were sold and raffle prizes available.
Initial estimates are that the event raised around $10,000 for the Matthew Axelson Foundation.
The foundation offers programs that support scholarship and economic empowerment, support for children and families who have lost a family member in combat, shipment of needed supplies to those currently on duty and physical and mental rehabilitation for returning veterans.
You can donate to the Matthew Axelson Foundation on their website.