Why We Do This: Sara Wilhelmi

February 17, 2018

I’m a full time graphic designer for the film industry and busy mom of 2 energetic kids and I have a passion for OCR and healthy living. I began OCR Racing in December of 2014. My first race was the Malibu Spartan Sprint. I decided to do it after years of being unhealthy and not understanding why. I had always been pretty active, loving the outdoors and trying different exercise programs etc. But after my children were born, I became overweight and began having hormonal imbalances which led to fibroid tumors and excessive weight gain. I was very tired and unmotivated. I joined the YMCA right after my daughter was born and I had hit 200 lbs. super motivated to lose weight and look better but my diet was full of fast food and tons of sugar. I fell in love with working out when I started going to a daily high intensity bootcamp class and the instructor was so passionate and inspiring that it made me love working out. I was beginning to lose weight and feel better. I was put on dangerous diet pills by my doctor and looking back, that was an awful choice. I moved to Ventura in 2011 and all of a sudden I gained all of my weight back and felt terrible again and my fibroids and hormonal issues were getting much worse. So I decided to do some research about how to get my hormones under control, finally learning that diet and consistent exercise was the key! I immediately cut fast food and excessive sweets out of m



y families diet. Swapped junk food for healthy and organic foods, reduced processed foods etc. It seems like common sense now, but I really had no idea at the time what my unhealthy lifestyle was doing to my body. While living in Ventura, I decided to try a mud run at the navy base next to my neighborhood. It sounded like fun. I pushed myself harder than I ever pushed before, I wanted to prove to myself that I was healthy. It went well until I almost fainted! But I loved it and it gave me a new direction, and showed my my short comings. I was determined to get stronger and in better shape so that I can improve my performance at the next race. I ended up finding an awesome gym in Ventura on Groupon. The instructors and owners had the same high intensity training enthusiasm and passion I liked so much when I went to the YMCA and I got hooked. This time I had a goal to work towards and a new gym family to keep me accountable. I started hearing a lot about Spartan and found out about the race in Malibu 2014, so, I went and signed up by myself, to test myself. After I completed that race, I impressed myself and did so much better than I thought I could. I was so excited that I could actually do it. I of course got hooked and signed up for more races. Then, I got certified and became an instructor at the gym and also headed up all of their graphic design and marketing needs. I was taking mine and others training and nutrition to the next level different challenges and programs at the gym. I started competing in the elite heat thanks to a friend who talked me into it. I haven’t looked back since. Last year I competed in 18 Spartan races and added a few other OCRs, met so many amazing, inspiring and passionate people who support me. This lifestyle and the people with the race community is a very important part of my success. My favorite part and my reason for living this way is being able to show my kids how to live a healthy lifestyle and take care of their bodies. Especially for my daughter to have a healthy body image and value strength and health over aesthetics. I never knew how much food and exercise effects the body and mind until this journey and am excited to spread my passion and knowledge to help others.


About the same time I began my health journey, my father’s health had taken a turn for the worst. In 2010, in his home state of Colorado he underwent an 18 hour surgery to remove a large life-threatening Meningioma or brain tumor from his brainstem and spinal cord. It left him completely unable to live a normal life. A former craftsman, builder and artist, he was now unable to walk, talk, eat or speak. Partial paralysis effected his face and legs. Over a 6 year period, he worked extremely hard everyday to recover and regain the ability to walk, talk, and even eat. He found joy and eased his PTSD and anxiety in carving beautiful portraits out of wood. He also worked hard with a physical therapist each day in hopes that he would recover enough to travel to visit his grand children. He also wanted to begin construction on his home so that he and his wife could move out of the tiny temporary mobile home they had to live in until construction was finished on his home. Construction had stopped indefinitely due to him losing his business due to his brain injury and having to pay for all of his recovery efforts.He also began a TBI support group in his community. 


About 2 years ago, what was left of his tumor began growing rapidly again and by November 2017, he had to undergo another long surgery to have it removed. This surgery went very well with no complications, but his already fragile brainstem and nerves became badly effected again and he is beginning his recovery all over again. He will need to re-learsn again walking, talking eating and more. He will most likely never fully recover. He is working hard in a recovery hospital in order to go back home to his wife and 2 dogs. Unfortunately, they will never have the means to build their dream home. His hopes are to recover enough to go home and be with his family. He wants more than anything to spend time with his grandchildren. We are raising funds to be able to purchase a larger, more comfortable, accessible home so that his family can come spend time with him and he can have a less stressful recovery. He is working hard everyday to achieve this goal, just to be with his grandchildren and children who he loves so much. 


I am sharing his story with my fellow race community because the support we give each other is unparalleled and since we all make our health and family our priority I know I am part of the best community. My dad would love to be able to run and work but he is very limited, so I am inspired to be able to do the things that he is not able to do and never take for granted our abilities.



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