After a helicopter crash in Afghanistan took the lives of 30 U.S. troops, former Navy SEAL Billy Helmers decided to hold a fundraiser for the children and families of Navy SEALs who died in combat.
“A lot of my friends were on that one, so we decided in August we would do a fundraising thing for the Navy SEAL Foundation," said Helmers, who owns IB Fitness.
Days before the fundraiser was scheduled to end, ex-SEAL Tyrone Woods was killed in the Sept. 11 attack on U.S. consulate personnel in Benghazi, Libya.
“I don't know if you look at it as the wrong place at the wrong time, or the right place at the right time, but some people definitely owe their lives to him,” he said.
In Woods' honor, the fundraiser will continue through October. He resided in Imperial Beach.
"We ended up retiring together. We bought our businesses together. We were on the [parachute] jump team together," Helmers said. Around the time when he purchased the gym, Woods purchased The Salty Frog bar farther down Palm Avenue.
Back then, the two would sit at The Salty Frog, “sorting out the world's problems over a cigar and a beer.”
Helmers remembers Woods, 41, as a silent professional and true warrior with a good spirit.
“We all are walking the razor's edge a little bit,” Helmers said. “It's real easy for people to fall off that thing, but he was able to maintain and stay on it his entire career.”
Woods died along with another one-time SEAL, Glen A. Doherty of Encinitas, the Libyan ambassador, Christopher Stevens and an information officer, Sean Smith.
The gym has raised $2,500 and has a goal of raising $10,000 for the Navy SEAL Foundation.
New members who sign up will pay $39 a month and a $99 initiation fee, 60 percent of which will go to the SEAL foundation, Helmers said. A similar deal is available for couples to pay $59 a month with a $124 initiation fee.
You don't have to be a member of the gym to donate, but anyone who makes a donation in any amount can work out for free for a day.
IB Fitness is located at 600 Palm Ave. Helmers can be reached by calling (619) 423-9022.