Operation Uplift and Serve

Businessmen Troy McClain and Bedros Keuilian support Idaho’s Youth ChalleNGe Academy with a big surprise
By Master Sgt. Becky Vanshur

PIERCE, Idaho – One of Idaho’s well-known reality TV show stars and businessman Troy McClain, joined forces with international businessman Bedros Keuilian who is widely known for his influential fitness brands as well as one of the largest health franchise entrepreneurs in the world today. Now, the Idaho National Guard knows him for his act of kindness on Nov. 6 by donating thousands of dollars’ worth of gym equipment to the Idaho Youth ChalleNGe Academy.

McClain focuses on making positive changes in the lives of children around the globe. Today, he honed in locally to show his support to the Idaho Youth ChalleNGe Academy. Inspired by the Adjutant General of Idaho Maj. Gen. Michael Garshak’s passion for giving back to the IDYCA, McClain joined the cause. The IDYCA is a Department of Defense and IDNG collaborative program designed to give second chances to Idaho’s youth who are 16 to 18 years old, and who have either dropped out of high school or are at risk of doing so.

A month earlier, the IDNG invited McClain to visit the IDYCA. Garshak spoke passionately about his commitment to the Idaho program and his commitment to the cadets. During the visit, McClain asked both the students and faculty the question, “If you could have one thing to help support this program, what would that be?” He then repeated the same question to leadership of the IDNG.

McClain said he was awed by each response. In each answer they all simply asked to make the program better for the cadets who follow their footsteps. The cadets collectively identified the need for better fitness equipment; the faculty and staff requested more inspirational and motivational leaders who could engage with the cadets; and the IDNG leadership wanted more exposure for the IDYCA so the public can learn more about this program.

“Armed with my answers and inspired by the thoughtfulness for others I could only identify one single person who would be able to achieve all these requests in one,” said McClain. “I immediately called my good friend and businessman Bedros Keuilian. In such a time of crisis, I knew getting gym equipment; access to motivational speakers; and covering delivery costs would to be limited. I also knew the best way to get ahead is to give back and I absolutely knew Keuilian was the man to call. When I call on friends for help, I vow to ensure it wont be for myself and it will be for a cause that aligns with their values and propose in life.”

Keuilian was an immediate yes for donating the gym equipment and giving his time to visit the academy, and to meet and inspire the cadets. The equipment donated consists of new balance balls, battle ropes, box jumps, jump ropes, kettlebells, medicine balls, pull-up stations and weight-lifting sandbags. To top it all off, McClain and Keuilian created a team of motivated representatives and flew them to Pierce to spend the day with the cadets. Former Navy SEAL, CIA contractor and TV actor Ray “Cash” Care, and U.S. Marine Steve Eckert, were brought along to visit the cadets and instruct a special workout session designed to prove to the cadets that they can endure and overcome difficult challenges. By the end of the workout, each cadet successfully completed the rigorous tasks provided by Care and Eckert.

The IDYCA is administered by the Department of Defense and is a cooperative program between the Idaho Military Division and the National Guard’s Youth ChalleNGe Program. The academy provides students the potential to earn up to a year’s worth of credits, to graduate from the program with a high school diploma or GED, or return to their respective high schools to graduate with their class.

For motivation, the cadets participated in an extremely challenging obstacle course to build resiliency and Keuilian delivered an inspirational speech about what he endured in his life to get to where he is today.

“I didn’t even make it through high school. What makes me think I could make it through college?” said Keuilian. “How could I own a fitness franchise and a software company? Because I have heart. I am driven and because I know my purpose.”

More than 30 U.S. states currently have a similar cooperative program. Idaho’s program has helped reshape the lives of more than 1,200 Idaho teens since welcoming its first class in January 2014. Each class is a 22-week program and is offered twice a year.

“The Idaho Youth ChalleNGe Academy’s mission to reclaim the lives of Idaho’s at-risk youth is one of my top priorities,” said Garshak. “The Idaho National Guard is so grateful that these amazing people were willing to donate their time and talent today to help our cadets realize their full potential.”