Local Fitness Owner Looks to Raise Funds for Homeless Female Veterans—and Inspire— as participant in Ms. Veteran America Pageant.
Walsh (front) during her military days
Erica Walsh believes in Karma. She works hard every single day to give back to the community and to contribute to causes bigger than herself.
As a participant in the upcoming Ms. Veteran America pageant, Walsh’s latest cause is to raise money and awareness for homeless female veterans across the country. Walsh served in the United States Army for eight years as a Military Police Officer, and is the Owner/Head Coach at DUB FITNESS, LLC., in King of Prussia.
Through grassroots efforts and a Crowd Rise site, Walsh hopes to raise $10 thousand—but she can’t do it alone. Walsh is looking to rally the Philadelphia community. With an eye toward local health and fitness organizations, and other community organizations and businesses,Walsh hopes to collaborate in fundraising efforts, and beyond that, share her inspiration and generosity of spirit throughout the city.
The Roxborough native, who currently resides in Lafayette Hill, will participate in the regional Ms. Veteran America pageant in Arlington in June, with hopes of advancing to the final round in Washington, D.C. in October.
Philly Happening recently spoke to Walsh about the pageant, why the cause is close to her heart, and the message of empowerment that she hopes to share with other females across the country.
Philly Happening: Tell us about the Ms. Veteran America Pageant.
Erica Walsh: It’s a pageant recognizing women veterans. Proceeds from the event will assist homeless female veterans. There are 55,000 homeless female veterans across the country, so this is an issue that needs attention. The winner will travel around the country for the next year speaking to women of all ages about this and other important issues.
P.H.: I know that you feel strongly about advocating for homeless female veterans. Can you tell us more about your fundraising efforts for this cause?
E.W.: So far I’ve raised more than $2 thousand by word of mouth. I’m trying to raise $10,000. I would love to rally the community to raise awareness for this issue. I’ve been reaching out to other health and wellness companies to see if they’d be interested in helping to raise money; maybe hold a class where the proceeds will go toward this cause.
People can do anything they want to raise money—even hold a bake sale. You can also donate through Crowd Rise. Your donation is tax deductible through that site: https://www.crowdrise.com/ericawalsh
If somebody wants to do a charity event in the city, I’d like to be there. I’d like to get out and talk with groups and meet people and share my story.
P.H.: Tell us more about your background and why the homeless female veteran cause is so important to you.
E.W.: My family is all military. They are all officers. I always felt a duty to my country. I still do. It’s in my blood. I was in high school when 9-11 happened. I decided that I was going to enlist. I always felt like I wanted to be a part of something bigger.
I was a Military Police in the U.S. Army for eight years. I miss it every day. I was overseas every other year. I went to Korea, Cuba, and Iraq.
I remember boot camp being so hard, but what got me through was thinking of my parents seeing me in my uniform, and how proud they’d be. I get goosebumps thinking about it.
The cause of women’s veterans is near and dear to me. I feel a passion to want to help and be a part of it.
This pageant is something incredible. It’s hard being in the military as a woman —you’re not taken seriously. Just being a woman in a man’s world has always been tough. I’m trying to get a following behind it, and am looking for the support.
P.H.: If you were to win, what would you like to talk to women across the country about?
E.W.: I would like to talk to girls, kids, and people, in general, about joining the military. I would like to talk about my experiences, especially to girls in 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th grades. At that age, I was a tomboy—I was into sports and I played with the boys on the block. There’s a stigma against girls that they’re not supposed to do those things, and it deters a lot of girls from embracing who they are and from doing certain things, like maybe joining the military. I want to show that this stigma is wrong.
I also want to show people that it doesn’t matter what your background is, you can do anything you want. I come from a divorced family and have had other challenges. I want to show that this is life—bad things happen, but you don’t quit because those bad things happen. I now own my own business, and I never thought I’d do that. Girls need to understand that you can do whatever you want, if you believe in yourself. I am a supporter of women and I want them to have that belief in themselves!
Walsh overseas during her military career
P.H.: Tell our readers more about your life after the military and how you formed your own fitness business.
E.W.: In the military you have to be in great shape. When I was a staff sergeant, I was in charge of people who needed to pass their PT tests, so I had to be in one thousand times better shape than them. Being in the position to help other people with their fitness, lit the fire. I got certified as a personal trainer in Iraq. I took online classes. The text book is bigger than any textbook I’ve ever had! Then I started getting involved in bodybuilding.
When I got out of military, I was 26 turning 27. I was lost. I didn’t fit in anywhere. I felt like I still needed something to connect me to the military. I was doing personal training. I started finding ways to connect the military to personal training. I started running challenges: The 30-Day Fit-Mom Challenge, or the 60-Day Weight Loss Challenge. More people got interested, and I realized that I needed to find a space to run these classes. My business just evolved from there.
I teach a lot of classes now. I teach CrossFit for disabilities. I have taught people who couldn’t lift a one-pound weight, who can now lift a three-pound weight. And now I have started doing kids fitness. Monday nights I teach Cross-kids.
I have an Iraqi Freedom License plate, and the kids ask about that. I feel like I’m able to teach them and to continue to spread the love for the military.
I’m also currently a student at West Chester University, studying Health and Physical Education.
Walsh, center, is the owner of DUB FITNESS, LLC.
P.H.: What is your talent for the pageant?
E.W.: Dancing! My fiancé and I are taking dance lessons for our wedding this summer!
To donate to Walsh’s Ms. Veteran America fund, visit her Crowd Rise page at https://www.crowdrise.com/ericawalsh
To contact Walsh, e-mail her at Dubfitness1@gmail.com
For more information on the Ms. Veteran America pageant, visit: http://www.msveteranamerica.org/
For more information about DUB FITNESS, visit: http://www.dub-fitness.com/home.html