November 24, 2014


Firewalkers gather at Common Ground to learn life’s lessons

A firewalker crosses fire Common Ground on Baird Road Saturday in Oberlin. STEVE MANHEIM

A man walks across fire at Common Grounds on Baird Road Saturday in Oberlin. STEVE MANHEIM

OBERLIN — Underneath a pavilion on the property of Common Grounds on Baird Road, nearly 100 people waited with anticipation for their turn to walk across a bed of burning embers.

But before walking across the fire, certified firewalk instructor Dave Tuscany told the somewhat apprehensive audience to not let fear dictate their lives.

“The lesson is about facing your fear and then applying what you learn here to your life,” Tuscany said.
Tuscany said that for many fear can run, even ruin, lives.

The feeling of fear can be debilitating, exhausting, painful and even deadly.

“You have to push through fear while feeling it,” Tuscany said.

Before participants could walk across the 15-foot bed of white cedar wood, the fire had to burn down to only embers.

And even as the rain fell, no one was worried.

“The rain will not stop us tonight,” Tuscany told the crowd.

Firewalk 6.jpgAs a drum rhythm provided a ritualistic atmosphere and the 15-foot bed of white cedar wood slowly burned, it was the declarations of self-worth that were heard throughout property in the Vermilion River Valley.

Margarita Padua, 16, of Lorain, quickly walked across the fire as her mother stood by in amazement.

“I did this because it’s a good experience and I hope it will help me grow as a person,” she said.

While Margarita walked on fire as a way to signal a positive future, others were declaring “I am valuable;” “I am not alone;” “I am fearless;” and “I am doing this.”

Before walking across the fire, participants of the seventh annual Gregg Gilder Memorial Firewalk broke wooden boards, walked on shards of glass and broke arrows by pressing the arrow against a wooden board and applying pressure.

After one woman broke the wooden board, she began crying.

Common Grounds executive director Rick Grahovac said the reaction after people experience a life-changing event is generally a remarkable energy.

“It’s more than just walking across a fire, it’s about facing your fear,” Grahovac said.

Contact Melissa Linebrink at 329-7243 or

  • Joe Sandor

    A lot of malarkey. What the people learned was physics and engineering. Firewalkers do not burn their feet due to The Leidenfrost Effect. This is where a layer of moisture insulates and protects the skin. That is why you see grass before the fire pit, because the grass holds moisture. Let’s have one of the people fully wipe their feet with a towel and then immediately walk through the fire pit. (Then call the paramedics !)

    • cellardoor

      Where you there? If you were not, I politely ask you to not comment on things you know nothing about.

      The point of Common Ground’s firewalk is never to just “walk on fire.” It’s an experience and seminar about fear and overcoming your fears – by the end of the night, the fire is nothing but a symbolic representation of that very fear, and overcoming it (by walking over it) is a therapeutic and extremely spiritual event.

      No one goes into it thinking that it’s “mind over matter,” or whatever you just said. Even the instructor says, “If you walk like this, it’s simple physics, you won’t get hurt.” We are NEVER lead to think that it’s anything other than simple physics and the helpful aid of wet grass that gets us across. However, that also does not take away from the experience one bit.

      If you have not attended a firewalk at Common Ground, I highly suggest you do so next year so you can see what it’s like for yourself, and then perhaps you will no longer feel the need to comment on articles with such self-righteous derisivness.

      • heavyw8t

        Not having been there does not equal his not knowing anything about it. With the description of the physics involved, he seems to know quite a bit. Your assumption that he knows nothing is far more self righteous.

    • Beth

      I agree, fire-walking and the like have been de-bunked. It’s all in your head. Mythbusters anyone? But I guess some people have to cling to something.

  • Bob Haas

    I noticed in the story no one said if they were burned. Or any pictures of their feet afterwards. Mind over matter doesn’t matter to fire on your skin. Whether you feel it or not it’s still going to burn you. Unless you have very tough feet that have been long prepared.

    • HankKwah

      I was there as a guest. No one there ran across the embers. Everyone walked at a normal pace over them, and not one of them ever said “Ow!” or screamed or made any comments indicating discomfort or pain. There were folks of all ages walking the embers, and all of them were confident in themselves and, for the most part, fearless.

      • cellardoor

        This. I’ve done the firewalk five times, and have only been “burned” once – and that was just a couple of small blisters that were gone within a day or two. I’ve never seen anyone get hurt beyond that, or end up upset at the end because of any injury or discomfort.

  • heavyw8t

    If you really want to face fear, marry my ex wife….

  • Don Grantzki

    Fire walking works just like “Krill oil”. It works because you “think” it works.

  • Dave Tuscany

    Firewalking really isn’t about Firewalking, or weather or not someone can get burned or does get burned (some have, and I have had minor burns).

    Firewalking is a metaphor for ANYTHING I fear….. like asking for a raise, or calling a client who is angry at me…. or even asking my partner for what I truly desire. EACH of these things aren’t scary to some people… and yet very scary to others….

    Firewalking helps bring up the feeling of fear in the attendee… so they can make a prudent decision while feeling the fear…… to say NO (as some might want to learn to do in their life), or say YES (as others find empowering).

    Firewalking is about pushing thru ANY trigger which produces a feeling of fear.

    Thank you for everyones comments…. all helpful…. all welcome :)

    Dave Tuscany
    Certified Firewalk Instructor