“We Are All Warriors,” a national grassroots and online initiative to identify the everyday heroes and real life warriors among us that was inspired by the release of the powerful film WARRIOR has culminated in winner Matt Long being chosen to host a free hometown premiere of the film at his local AMC Theatre. The screening will take place Wednesday, Sept. 14.
Matt Long is a celebrated New York City firefighter, a 9/11 survivor, a champion athlete, and an author. His powerful contest submission, which was randomly chosen from those received in the contest, can be viewed here. Long’s book “The Long Run,” was published by Rodale and is now out in paperback.
During the past six weeks, Warriors throughout the country flocked to www.WeAreAllWarriors.com to nominate their local heroes and answer the question, “What do you fight for?” The project and contest were promoted by several high profile editorial partners, including MMA Weekly, Impact Wrestling, LIVESTRONG, JustJared, BeliefNet, and The Huffington Post. More than 500 submissions were ultimately garnered, making “We Are All Warriors” one of Lionsgate’s most successful user generated contests to date.
“We are thrilled and honored that Matt Long is the winning everyday warrior,” said Lionsgate’s Chief Marketing Officer Tim Palen. “He truly has a fighting spirit, and is the living embodiment of everything this powerful film is about- resolve, strength of character, athleticism, and courage. Audiences and critics alike have loved this film, but I think it will make an even more special impact on Matt and his family & friends, because it speaks so directly to his warrior spirit.”
Notable submission partners who were nominated or encouraged their members to nominate their heroes included:
- AMC Theatres
- Invisible People
- Boys & Girls Club Of America
- The United Way
- The Case Foundation
- The Mankind Project
- Child S.H.A.R.E.
- Mobility Works,
- Warriors for Christ
Among the celebrity Warriorstories submitted were those of Lance Armstrong, Massachusetts Lieutenant Governor Timothy Murray, football player and U.S. Army Ranger Pat Tillman, NCAA champion wrestler Anthony Robles, and MMA fighters including Tito Ortiz, Rad Martinez, Eric Apple, and Rich Franklin.
About Matt Long
Matt Long has been a competitive athlete his entire life. As a member of his high school basketball team, he was required to run in the Brooklyn/Queens X-country Championships. With no prior running experience, he finished fifth for his school, completing the race in uncomfortable high top sneakers. At Iona College, he competed in their Division I basketball program for which a high level of fitness was mandatory.
Strength and endurance became especially paramount in his life after college when he became a New York City Firefighter. It was around this time he took up distance running and began competing in Ironman triathlons, finishing his first Ironman race in 2005. He then set his sights on qualifying for the Boston marathon by running the ING NYC marathon later that year. With hard work, dedication and persistence, he trimmed 30 minutes off his personal best to run a 3:13, qualifying for the 2006 Boston event.
On the morning of Dec. 22, 2005, Matt Long’s life changed in an instant. He was cycling to work in the early morning when he was struck and run over by a 20-ton bus making an illegal turn. The injuries he sustained pushed him to the brink of death. He received 68 units of blood in the first 40 hours after the accident and spent five months in the hospital. More than 40 operations later, he finally began a grueling rehabilitation regime. Matt found the psychological consequences of the accident nearly as hard to process as the physical severities. His doctor had told him he’d be lucky to ever walk again without a cane.
Matt fought through months of fear, despair, loneliness, and intense physical and psychological pain to regain the life he once had. His recovery was a miraculous one which included everything from learning to walk again and, a mere three years later, running in the 2008 New York City Marathon. “Running saved my life,” Matt says, and his determination and perseverance has turned him into a symbol of hope and recovery for countless others.
Matt’s story was covered in a wildly popular article in the March 2009 edition of Runner’s World magazine. Matt has since chronicled his life and journey both before and after the accident in his book The Long Run, released in October 2010. Matt has also started the I WILL Foundation which provides coaching, training and financial support to help people overcome adversity and challenges caused by illness or traumatic injury.
He currently resides in New York City.
About “We Are All Warriors”
“We Are All Warriors” was an opportunity for people all over the country to join together to share their stories and answer the central question of WARRIOR: “What Do You Fight For?” From our teachers and coaches to our athletes and veterans, we all fight for something – we are all warriors. At www.WeAreAllWarriors.com, project participants answered the question in their own words, nominated other everyday warriors, voted for their favorite warriors, and rallied friends and family to share their contender via Facebook and Twitter.
“We Are All Warriors” was promoted through media, corporate and non-profit partnerships on both national and local levels. With word first spreading through a series of ESPN-sponsored screenings of the inspiring film, the program culminated in a national promotion with AMC Theatres centered around a sweepstakes where one everyday warrior would receive a free hometown premiere of the film at the nearest AMC theatre.
The website featured video diaries from both everyday warriors and celebrity guests including prominent bloggers, parents, coaches, troops, actors athletes, and pastors, answering the film’s central question ‘What Do You Fight For?’ in their own words.
Rising stars Tom Hardy and Joel Edgerton command the screen as two estranged brothers facing the fight of a lifetime in Lionsgate’s WARRIOR, a moving, inspirational action drama from acclaimed director Gavin O’Connor (Miracle).
Haunted by a tragic past, Marine Tommy Conlon (Hardy) returns home for the first time in fourteen years to enlist the help of his father (Nick Nolte) to train for Sparta, the biggest winner-takes-all event in mixed martial arts history. A former wrestling prodigy, Tommy blazes a path toward the championship while his brother, Brendan (Edgerton), an ex-fighter-turned teacher, returns to the ring in a desperate bid to save his family from financial ruin. But when Brendan’s unlikely, underdog rise sets him on a collision course with the unstoppable Tommy, the two brothers must finally confront each other and the forces that pulled them apart, facing off in the most soaring, soul stirring, and unforgettable climax that must be seen to be believed.
A rousing ode to redemption, reconciliation and the power of the human spirit, WARRIOR is also a moving testament to the enduring bonds of family. WARRIOR stars Joel Edgerton (Animal Kingdom, Star Wars: Episode III), Tom Hardy (the upcoming The Dark Knight Rises, Inception, Black Hawk Down), Jennifer Morrison (“House”, Star Trek) and Nick Nolte (Tropic Thunder, The Thin Red Line). The film is directed by Gavin O’Connor; screenplay by Gavin O’Connor & Anthony Tambakis & Cliff Dorman and story by Gavin O’Connor & Cliff Dorfman. Lionsgate and Mimran Schur Pictures present a Lionsgate / Mimran Schur Pictures production. A Solaris Entertainment and Filmtribe production. Additional information about WARRIOR can be found at www.warriorfilm.com or www.facebook.com/warriorfilm.