By Thom Van Vleck
I have met many of my best friends being involved in strength sports. This is a story about one of them and the group he helped start. I was competing in a Strongman contest called the “Strongarm Games” in Kansas City put on by Steve Scott. This contest had a Scottish flair to it and I recall we did some strongman events with some highland games event thrown in. It was then I first met Randy. We competed together and hit it off really well. Then, a couple years later a friend of mine invited me to be his guest in a VIP box for the US Strongman Pro Nationals in St. Louis at Harrah’s Casino. The warm up show included some bending by John Brookfield and he was performing with Omega Force. I kept looking at the guy that was the leader but could not place him….when suddenly he called me out by name! I realized it was Randy, the guy I had met at the Strongarm Games.
After the show I talked with Randy at length about what he did. At that time Bubba Melton was still with him and performing. During the next year, I would find out that Bubba had passed away and he was only 34 years old. Omega Force was doing Christian evangelism in the Paul Anderson tradition. Randy built all his own equipment on his farm in Kentucky and had an ever changing group of guys that would do shows with him. It was after that show that he told me that he would call me the next time they were up this way.
That next year, Randy did call me and I recruited Brian Kerby to go down with me. Brian and I thought we’d be mostly helping set things up but quickly found ourselves in the middle of the show! There were 6 shows in 4 days including two over two days for the US Pro Nationals Strongman Contest. The final day ended up in the Family Arena in St. Charles where we performed for over 3000 there to see the strongman competition! Brian and I were so inspired we came back and started our own local team. From time to time we have helped out Omega Force as have greats like Bill Kazmaier, Paul Wrenn, and Anthony Clark! A couple years back we went with Randy to the Arnold Fit Expo and were invited to provide security for Arnold himself. Arnold autographed an 800lb log that Randy squats in his shows to show his gratitude. It was at that show that Brian Schoonveld, a World’s Strongest Man competitor levered the special sledge hammer that I gave Al Myers and now rests in the Dino Gym.
Omega Force was started in 1996 by Randy Richey and Bubba Melton. They do feats of strength showing their God-given talents and use it to entertain while delivering a Gospel message. The Mission Statement of Omega Force reads: “To be a ministry that demonstrates love and compassion in bringing forth the gospel to win the lost and to provide spiritual guidance and direction to those in need. Their purpose is to go into all the world and spread the gospel”. While some may agree or disagree with what they are about and how they do it, there is no denying the intensity the bring to their efforts. They also support being drug free and showing love to others.
I had the pleasure of visiting Randy’s home gym in Kentucky a few years back. I have to say that in many ways it rivals Al’s Dino Gym! If measured by pure volume, I would say Randy has more stuff than Al! But the way Al keeps adding to his collection, that may change! At any rate, if you are in that area, it is worth the trip. Randy’s gym may be more in the sticks than Al’s so don’t think you will just “drive my it”. Randy told me he has guys that will travel hundreds of miles for their big weekend workouts!
Randy and Omega Force have been a good friend of the JWC over the years. I know that in the future both teams will continue the work they do and if the chance to work together again comes, I know I will be there. Check out their website: www.omegaforceone.com or look them up on facebook.