Local woman toughs out race to support burn victims

By: Sherri Kolade | Farmington Press | Published May 26, 2017

 Terry Reuer works out at a gym where she receives fitness tips from trainers like Farmington’s Fitness 19 trainer Mason Halseth during a past workout.

Terry Reuer works out at a gym where she receives fitness tips from trainers like Farmington’s Fitness 19 trainer Mason Halseth during a past workout.

Photo provided by Matt Siegler


FARMINGTON HILLS — Would navigating through ponds, meadows, fields and woods in a 12-mile obstacle mud-run, the Tough Mudder, make you uncomfortable? 

If so, good. That’s half the battle. 

But if your age or weight are behind the discomfort, Terry Reuer, 66, of Farmington, has some words for you.

“You’re never too old, and it’s never too late. I really don’t care what your circumstances are. You can do something that makes you feel better and pushes you out of your comfort zone,” Reuer, CEO of the Farmington Hills-based Dryer Vent Wizard, said recently. 

People told her she was too old to train for the competition. 

She ignored them. 

“Being out of your comfort zone is pretty darn exciting. That has been my experience, anyway. It gets your adrenaline going a little bit.” 

Her adrenaline has been pumping since the end of 2015, when she set out to change her unhealthy eating habits and lost 65 pounds. 

“I just woke up one morning and said, ... ‘I just want to be more fit.’ … My whole family has a lot of health issues,”  Reuer said, listing ailments including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diverticulitis and diabetes. “Really, a lot of the things that happen when you are overweight.”

Reuer said that a health problem would have been inevitable for her if she did nothing. She has since quit eating sugar, foods with white flour and white rice, and reduced her sodium intake.

“I started losing weight — that is what kept me hooked. I’ve lost 65 pounds. I feel great. I feel great,” she said, laughing.

Reuer was also inspired on this journey when her colleague, Jason Kapica, executive vice president of Dryer Vent Wizard, asked her to join him on the Tough Mudder run last September. 

“I thought it was the funniest thing I have ever heard in my life,” Reuer said.

The Tough Mudder will be held June 3 in Oxford. Members of the corporate team at Dryer Vent Wizard will participate to raise money for the Children’s Burn Foundation. 

The Tough Mudder is known as “Probably the Toughest Event on the Planet,” according to its website, toughmudder.com. 

Reuer said she told Kapica that while she couldn’t do the event, the company would support him and his effort through a fundraiser. 

 During National Fire Prevention Month in October, Dryer Vent Wizard franchisees raise money for the Children’s Burn Foundation by pledging a donation amount per job completed in the month, according to a press release. Last year, Dryer Vent Wizard raised nearly $21,000, and it aims to raise $25,000 this year.

“Every year we bump our goal up,” Reuer said, adding that the burn victims’ stories are “super sad,” and donations are all to help those impacted by burns.

Reuer said Kapica is familiar with the Tough Mudder and has participated in it multiple times. By the time he asked her to participate, she had lost just shy of 50 pounds; she had just started going to the gym in August 2016, losing another 18 pounds, and she dropped another four pants sizes. 

Kapica said that the office is always looking for different fundraising ideas.

He added that he didn’t think anyone in the office would actually “be serious” about doing the Tough Mudder with him.

“Then, suddenly, Terry went from ‘Haha, funny, I’ll come watch you,’ to ‘All right, we’re going to do this.’ And here we are today,” he said. 

Kapica added that Reuer is the “most amazing part of it.”

“Her transformation, her dedication to training for this thing — it’s been unbelievable, and it’s going to be quite the experience.”

The Los Angeles-based nonprofit Children’s Burn Foundation has partnered with Dryer Vent Wizard for the sixth year in a row; this is the first year Dryer Vent Wizard will raise money for the organization via the Tough Mudder, according to a press release.

Children’s Burn Foundation Executive Director Carol Horvitz said the partnership has been “a wonderful relationship.” 

The Children’s Burn Foundation provides surgeries, prosthetics, hair transplants, medicine, rehabilitation and psychological support for children 18 and younger. It also has a burn prevention and education program.

“That is where we feel that Dryer Vent Wizard is such a perfect partner for us, because in the work they do — by cleaning out dryer vents — they’re actually a great partner in preventing burn injuries for families and children,” she said. Horvitz added that dryer vent-related fires are a serious cause of fires in homes due to backup lint and debris buildup in dryer vents. 

“It’s really a critical part of your home maintenance to keep yourself safe.”

Burn injuries can also be caused by cooking or water, incidents that have been on a downward swing since the opening of the foundation in 1994.

A byproduct of Reuer’s journey has been the inspiration she sparks in some of her co-workers to lose weight.

“I don’t always think we recognize the fact that (change) … has an effect on the people around us, and this is the most visible thing I have done in my life,” Reuer said. “What has surprised me the most is how many other people have gotten started because of this.”

Dryer Vent Wizard, headquartered in Farmington Hills, specializes in dryer vent repair, replacement, alteration, cleaning and maintenance for both residential and commercial clients, according to a press release. 

To donate, go to www.crowd rise.com/dryer-vent-wizard-corp. 

For more information about Dryer Vent Wizard, visit www.dryerventwizard.com. For more information about the Children’s Burn Foundation, go to www.childburn.org.