September 7, 2016
The Huffington Post: Tony Robbins sets the record straight about firewalk ‘controversy’
In this Huffington Post article, Marianne Schnall reports on the 2012 San Jose firewalk event that received inaccurate press reports concerning injured participants. She clarifies what actually happened at the event via responses from participants and Tony Robbins himself.
Schnall explains how surprised she was to see reports of “dozens” of participants being treated for burns after the event. She says she felt the report seemed wrong based on everything she already knew about the event, and decided to investigate the issue. She contacted three medical professionals who worked on site that night, and all three were dismayed by the media coverage of the event.
Schnall reports that San Jose’s Mercury News erroneously reported that participants were screaming in agony. This was misinformation which came from a bystander who was unaware that participants scream and yell to encourage themselves and others. The medical personnel told Schnall that several participants received minor blisters and burns, but were treated on site and were fine.
Glen Lechtanski, Tony Robbins’ director of medical operations at live events and a certified emergency nurse with a Master’s Degree in Emergency and Burn Trauma, was present at the event, noting that there have never been any cases of third-degree burns in the 11 years that he has participated in firewalk events.
Schnall had the opportunity to reach out to Tony Robbins, who pointed out that only about one-third of one percent—or 21 people out of 6,000—had very minor injuries after the event, and that this event was no different than any other. He added that the participants are well-prepared for the event and understand the science and the risks.
More importantly, Robbins explains to Schnall that the firewalk is really about breaking through limits and fears, and finding what is holding you back. He clarifies that firewalking is a useful metaphor for getting past fears and doing more than we think we can.
Other participants, such as actor Stephen Weber and several Wounded Warrior veterans, told Schnall that they had a wonderful time at the event and viewed the event as a moment that changed their lives. After the article was published, FOX News issued a retraction about the event, noting that many of the injuries were minor burns that were treated on site, which allowed participants to go home feeling safe and inspired for the journey ahead.