On April 10, 2024

Sweethearts & Heroes creates Youth Summits with Spartan Races to combat hopelessness

First of these summits is scheduled for Sept. 11-13 at Killington Resort

 Sweethearts & Heroes has joined forces with Spartan Races for a new series of Youth Leadership Summits that will kick off a multi-phase initiative and the first of these summits is scheduled for Sept. 11-13 at Killington Resort. 

Spartan Founder and CEO Joe De Sena said, “Spartan is thrilled to partner with Sweethearts & Heroes, a great organization that has accomplished so much through their hard work and innovative approach to strengthening America’s youth. Our new partnership will go a long way to helping us attain our goal: Change 100 million lives and focus that change on our kids.”

The Summit, a three-day mountaintop experience, is “getting ready to sweep the nation and spread the message of Sweethearts & Heroes farther than ever in a quest to reach every public school student in the U.S. and beyond,” said Tom Murphy, director and founder of Sweethearts & Heroes, a student empowerment and empathy activation team.

Courtesy Sweethearts & Heroes
Sweethearts & Heroes is developing a new series of Youth Leadership Summits with Spartan Races to benefit kids. Pictured are teammates Tom Murphy, Sgt. Rick Yarosh, Pat Fish, and Matt Verducci.

“This is probably our biggest news ever,” said Murphy of St. Albans. “Make no mistake: We are at war with this thing called ‘hopelessness,’ and our students are the change the world needs. These events will ignite our students into action within their school communities.”

The Summit marks a massive shift in focus for Sweethearts & Heroes, which has brought the messages of H.O.P.E. (Hold On, Possibilities Exist), action, empathy, and what they call “the ‘stop, drop and roll’ of bullying” directly to the schools of nearly 2 million students, from New England to Hawaii, and from Canada to California, for 16 years — including to the Rutland Northeast Supervisory Union (RNESU) on March 18.

The Summit turns things around, bringing students to Sweethearts & Heroes. The three-day event is designed to unite a select group of youth influencers who represent diverse peer groups from a conglomeration of schools and districts. These influencers will participate in various leadership seminars centered around empathy activation and student empowerment, taking them on a ceremonial initiation into the world of Sweethearts & Heroes.

These summits will be held in conjunction with locally held and nationally attended Spartan Races. Sweethearts & Heroes will utilize Spartan’s obstacle course to close out The Summit with a fun-filled, play-centered, team-building “race” — but that’s just the beginning. The real work starts when these new youth leaders, who bonded during the conference through various challenges and overcame adversity together during the “race,” then return to their respective schools to spread messages from The Summit throughout the rest of their district — a message of H.O.P.E. for students, delivered by students.

“We’ll train these young leaders to bring our ‘Stop, Drop, and Roll’ of bullying back to their local schools and to deliver our messages of H.O.P.E., Action, and Empathy to their local communities,” Murphy said. “Our young people are on the frontlines in this war against hopelessness, and we must shepherd and empower them to be the change we need.”   


The programs and initiatives brought back to schools include Sweethearts & Heroes’ signature Circle work, built on the ancient ritual of sharing, listening and creating a community of belonging. Schools will also access Sweethearts & Heroes’ new online learning platform, the H.O.P.E. Classroom, and the crown jewel of their curriculum: the B.R.A.V.E. Youth Leadership System.

Traveling with Spartan Races will also introduce Sweethearts & Heroes to new areas of the U.S. where they can deliver their profound, engaging signature presentation to local civic, non-profit, and business groups.

Murphy said, “We go where we’re needed. That’s what heroes do.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide rates among youth and young adults in the U.S. between the ages of 10-24 have increased by 60% since 2011. The most staggering increase in youth suicide comes from preteens and teens aged 10-14, which tripled from 0.9 per 100,000 in 2007 to 2.9 per 100,000 in 2018.

“As a nation, we must have this conversation,” Murphy said. “When I tell people about the increased rates of suicides and destructive decisions among our young people, they are speechless, but the worst part is that this is not the biggest topic and focus in America, nor the world. We are losing our children at a rate that our planet may have never seen before; our children are desperate for help.”

Murphy said these summits would also be an opportunity to continue supporting “our nation’s greatest protectors,” the Marines, and all our service members. For years, Sweethearts & Heroes has espoused the astonishing and perplexing similarity between the hopelessness among our youth and the hopelessness among our active duty and veteran military service members.

Courtesy Spartan Races
A boy uses a rope to scale an obstacle in a past Spartan Kids Races. Obstacle races like this enhance confidence and teamwork.

“We want to invite all branches of the Armed Forces to join us at these events to meet and inspire our young people with their purpose and to introduce them to individuals who know grit, adversity and commitment,” Murphy said. “These summits will offer our youth and our nation’s finest the ability to unify in this fight against hopelessness and destructive decisions. Over the last couple of years, we have spoken multiple times at Camp Pendleton, California, to hundreds of Marines. One of our great initiatives is to connect each school in a ‘new’ way to their local armed services. College and the workforce are great for some students, but the military is another avenue that can give opportunity to our youth while filling their hearts and minds with a tremendous sense of purpose.”

For more information on Sweethearts & Heroes, visit: sweetheartsandheroes.com.

Do you want to submit feedback to the editor?

Send Us An Email!

Related Posts

Large turnout for Hartland school budget info session

May 23, 2024
By Curt Peterson The May 21 Hartland school budget information session may be the best-attended school board gathering in recent history — an estimated 40 people attended in person at Damon Hall in Hartland, and another 41 tuned in online. Hartland voters had already approved the $11,040,567 budget 320-311 on April 2. But a petition…

United Way of Rutland County names new exc. director

May 22, 2024
The United Way of Rutland County (UWRC) announced the appointment of Tina Van Guilder as its new executive director, May 17.  Van Guilder officially assumed her role as executive director May 6. With over seven years of direct non-profit leadership experience in the Rutland County area, coupled with recent roles focusing on grant coordination, budget…

Slate Valley school district to hold fourth vote on district budget

May 22, 2024
In response to the results of the last vote on May 9, and valuable community feedback during the school board meeting on May 13, the Slate Valley Unified Union School District will hold its fourth vote in an attempt to pass the budget on May 30. It will be a revote on the third FY25…

Where is the road construction this week? 

May 22, 2024
The Agency of Transportation produces this weekly report of planned construction activities that will impact traffic on state highways and interstates throughout Vermont. Hartford: Monday, May 20, through Friday, May 24, between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., multiple concrete mixers will be moving in and out of the project area at either end of the…