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BRCC Has Bragging Rights on So Many Cool Dads

Father’s Day is right around the corner, and while gift guides are great, it’s also important to recognize all the great dads we have in our corner. Right here within the Black Rifle Coffee Company community, there are a ton of dads that deserve to be recognized. While I wish we could write about them all, here are just a few of the cool guys who hold the title of “dad.”

Photo courtesy of CJ Quichocho.

CJ Quichocho, E-Commerce Manger

“I never had a dad,” CJ Quichocho said. “I was raised by several male figures — not blood, like football coaches and family friends and uncles — that had quite an effect on me. I was primarily raised by females: my grandma, aunt, and mom.”

Quichocho was diagnosed with cancer at age 18 and had to decide before starting chemo to save his sperm long before he was ready to become a father. Before administering chemo, it was made clear to him that there was a good chance that the only way he would be able to have kids would be with the saved samples. 

“My doctor was very mindful of my future and said, ‘I don’t know if you want kids,’ and at that point, I interrupted her and said yes, I do,” Quichocho shared. “So I knew that I had a week to get sperm samples saved before the chemo killed everything. I’m still so grateful that I had doctors looking out for me.”

Six years after the treatment, Quichocho and his wife traveled from San Antonio to Austin to retrieve his sperm, thaw it, and go through egg retrieval and create the embryos. His son, Kai, is the first of 4 embryos, and the plan is to use the other three embryos down the road eventually. 

Photo courtesy of CJ Quichocho.

On the other hand, Quichocho’s daughter, Cora, was indeed a surprise. 

“We conceived Cora naturally; she’s legitimately a miracle baby,” Quichocho said. “Amid Snowvid, February 2021, when the power was out in Texas, my wife wasn’t feeling well, and I was convinced that she needed to rest and drink water. The following week, when the power was back on, she still was sick, so she went to the doctor and found out she was 10 weeks pregnant.” 

Quichocho and his wife had been planning for baby No. 2 via in vitro fertilization in June 2021 to align with her schedule as a teacher, but miracle baby Cora Elise sped up the process. 

Photo courtesy of CJ Quichocho.

“Both kids’ first words were ‘dada,’ and Kai is now starting to form sentences,” Quichocho shared. “It makes my dad-heart happy to be able to give them both the childhood that I never had, and it’s so true that your life changes forever when you have kids. Honestly, how perfect is it that we have a boy and a girl? I could call it quits … but I come from a big family, and I want that for my kids too.”

Quichocho emphasized the importance of instilling values and morals in his kids as well as making sure their childhood is everything his was not. The concept of children being sponges and how responsible adults are around children because they soak up everything their influences do and say is not lost on him. 

“I’m okay with giving Kai and Cora everything that I didn’t have as a child, but more importantly, I want to teach them everything I didn’t know as a child,” Quichocho said. “Respect, treating others the way you want to be treated, and using your manners. [...] As a two-year-old, Kai is learning and beginning to embody all those things. As a father, I want to be able to provide and instill in Kai and Cora the things that all the father figures I had in my life taught me.”

“The one memory I do have of my dad is that he loved Bruce Lee movies, and there’s a quote that stands out in my mind: ‘Instead of buying your children all the things you never had; you should teach them all the things you were never taught. Material wears out, but knowledge stays.’”

Being a dad and a veteran at BRCC highlights the importance of sharing knowledge and values that will create the next generation of members of society.

“Being a dad in the BRCC community is pretty damn rewarding. Kai and Cora will learn the meaning of hard work, dedication, and teamwork,” Quichocho said. “All things that I've learned in the three years of being at this company and a part of this team. Nothing will be perfect, and that's okay. Because that's how we learn. It is pretty damn cool that Kai will see a design on my shirt or hat or even a mug and say, “Dada’s work!”

Photo courtesy of Gary Stevens.

Gary Stevens, Executive Director of Art

Gary Stevens experienced a number of life changes in a short period of time, the two biggest being having his second son one month and finding out that he was being involuntarily discharged from the Air Force for a medical injury the next. 

“That was an exciting time in my life, but the things that happened after that were worth it,” Stevens said. “We moved to Colorado; I was going to college, working at Home Depot, and raising my kids; it was a rough couple of years. I was forgoing sleep and often also forgoing meals so that my kids could eat. I’m very fortunate I only had to do this for a few years, but it was a rough few years.”

“I wouldn’t be where I was today without my kids, and I don’t mean that just psychologically, always having someone there. But to me, if I failed to succeed, my wife could find opportunities for more wealth or income,” Stevens said. “But with kids, they wholly depend on you, so that’s been my driving force.”

Photo courtesy of Gary Stevens.

“Honestly, parenthood is a life-altering experience, not just the ‘rewarding’ cliché that everyone tends to say it is,” Stevens said.

Stevens and his wife have two sons, both of whom he refers to as being supportive during his process of getting his career started, and also the motivation and reason for his focus on a career path.

BRCC is the reason Stevens has been able to settle for his kids, allowing them to be in the same school system as they age up into middle school. It’s also offered connections to a community with many parents with similar life paths and experiences. 

“The best thing about being a parent at BRCC is that people are genuine, and it’s very family-friendly,” Stevens explained. “There’s a lot of shared experiences amongst veteran parents, and you can trade notes on how you deal with situations which can be different from what a civilian parent may experience or how they may handle things.”

“I’m at an interesting point in fatherhood right now where my kids are hitting puberty, so one day you’re hanging out with your son, and the next morning you wake up, your kid's voice has changed, and you think you’re having breakfast with Barry White,” Stevens said. 

Much like the military, parenthood comes with its own set of rules and challenges. No two children are the same, and each child brings new lessons to light.

“Being in the military and the way I grew up, I’m a very impatient person, and I just like to get things done,” Stevens said. “My oldest son is special needs, so in the last 13 years, I’ve learned a lot about patience, about slowing down and explaining things better. You have to learn to break things down and make them digestible, and that’s actually translated into lessons I can use as a leader.”

“One of the lessons I had to learn as a parent is that there’s no one key that fits [every] door,” Stevens continued. “Its taught me that you have to communicate with everyone in your own language, how you direct and guide people, learning how to localize. That’s one of the greatest lesson I’ve learned from fatherhood so far.”

Photo courtesy of Joshua Skovlund.

Joshua Skovlund, Staff Writer for ‘Coffee or Die Magazine’

Joshua Skovlund kicked off fatherhood in an unplanned way, when the doctor broke his wife’s membrane — without asking — during a final checkup at the hospital where both Skovlund and his wife worked and jumpstarted the delivery process. 

“At the time, I was actively working as a paramedic and had just recently completed my critical care certifications, so I had just done extra training on things that go wrong during delivery,” Skovlund said. “So when my wife went into labor, we had had a plan, but that plan just went out the window. My head went straight into panic mode. I always wanted to become a dad, but that moment was scarier than my first time jumping out of a plane, and happier than bringing back a cardiac arrest patient — nothing compares to it.”

In his female-heavy family, Skovlund has three sisters, and his siblings all have daughters; he had wondered whether anyone in the family would ever have a son. So Abraham’s birth was exciting from that aspect, as well as being a truly eventful birth story.

“Jumpstarting a delivery is just something you don’t do and can cause a lot of problems, so I jumped into problem-solving mode. Thanks to my training though, I was answering a lot of my own questions in my head,” Skovlund continued. “My son came out blue, he had a nuchal cord, so the cord was wrapped around his neck. The doctors had me cut the cord and he pinked right up. Then, my wife’s blood pressure tanked unexpectedly post-birth, and they were prepping a crash cart, but since both of us work in the hospital, we knew what the cart was there for, and there was no hiding it — luckily, with some medication, her blood pressure normalized. In the midst of that, Abraham, my son, made his first scream, which was life-changing.”

Baby No. 2, Eleanor, was born at the beginning of the pandemic, before COVID-19 really had a name. So instead of an early induced labor, Skovlund and his wife experienced a labor and delivery room where everyone was masking up and protocols were changing every day. The scare factors and rush of having a second child came from a different place: grappling with the ideas of having a daughter and the thoughts of daddy-daughter dances. 

“I got hit with something, possibly COVID, and while we were transitioning to the post-labor recovery room, I got hit with a wave of nausea, which I attributed to the new feelings of being a girl-dad,” Skovlund said. “I was sick for three days straight, and my wife was hospitalized with more blood pressure complications, so that actually kind of worked out, since I was home battling whatever it was I had. Neither child’s entry into the world was textbook normal, so I don’t know what a ‘normal’ delivery is like.”

“Eleanor had colic after she was born, and coming from a healthcare background, it was frustrating to not be able to figure [out.] Colic is such an unknown, and it was so hard to help [Eleanor] the first few months,” Skovlund said. “After around the four-month mark, the colic was suddenly gone, so now getting to see her personality is so cool.” 

Photo courtesy of Joshua Skovlund.

As exciting as becoming a father was, it was also the downfall of Skovlund’s career as a paramedic. Between night shifts as a medic and moonlighting as a critical care paramedic, he dealt with a string of calls that were providing care to very young patients. 

“After Abraham was born, I found myself unable to separate or desensitize dealing with kid injuries and trauma,” Skovlund explained. “The first of which was a child who wasn’t strapped into a car seat, and his head was collapsed from a crash thanks to his mom texting and driving. That one I couldn’t shake for a while. The other one that really got me — and it was strange to me because it involved teenagers — the driver of a car that had been thrown upon impact with a truck that ran into them. It was the first time I had ever had to do bilateral chest compressions, and it was on a kid. It was impossible to identify his age because of his condition until we found his license, and when I saw 14, it hit me like a ton of bricks.”

From that point on, Skovlund picked up photography and started freelancing, which led to a shoot with Nitro Circus for BRCC, and after proving himself, he was invited to start writing in the first responder vertical for Coffee or Die Magazine

Photo courtesy of Joshua Skovlund.

“Particularly with the work that Coffee or Die does, I think it’s so cool that my son can share with his class that his dad does things like traveling to Ukraine,” Skovlund said. “The other side of that is I feel like I can separate myself from being dad when I’m in spicier scenarios. I believe in my job as a journalist and getting the truth out, and it’s so critical to do that — not to mention that the journalist motto, ‘do no harm,’ is similar to the medical community creeds. I think its important to be able to do my job, get home, and step out of those scenarios. That’s when I can be dad and hug my kids.”

“The transition from being a dad where I couldn’t handle my job at the time, to being a dad at BRCC where one of the first things that stood out to me was seeing Evan [Hafer] with his kids or Marty [Skovlund] with his kids, really stood out to me,” Skovlund said. “The family-oriented environment that we work in is phenomenal. Seeing everyone teaching their kids how to shoot a bow, doing camping stuff, firing firearms, learning how to cook — it just resonated, because those are all things that I grew up doing. That’s what made it clear to me that this was a place I wanted to work, and I’m a very thankful person for this kind of environment” 

Photo courtesy of Johnathan Griswold.

Johnathan Griswold, Illustrator for the Executive Art Team

Johnathan Griswold is one of the newest dads in the BRCC crew, and his son, Jasper James, was born on November 21, 2021. 

“My wife and I were married for five years before having kids,” Griswold said. “We always wanted kids, but I think we were just waiting for the world to get less crazy. But it just struck me one day that I shouldn’t let the way of the world affect how we live our lives.” 

There are parts of new parenting that Griswold was prepared for. Getting no sleep comes naturally to freelance artists, so physically, there was no issue, but the mental side of having a baby, trying to determine what’s going on when the baby is crying and the like, was stressful. 

Photo courtesy of Johnathan Griswold.

“People don’t tell you the truth about having kids,” Griswold stated. “It’s definitely the hardest and coolest thing I’ve ever done. It’s pretty awesome, you know, the first couple of months, they’re so little, and seeing Jasper begin to grow and become interactive is fascinating. The first time he recognized me from across the room was so cool.”

“I feel like everyone I work with, even indirectly, are family,” Griswold said. “He’s gonna know that BRCC is an extension of our family. His room is already full of BRCC gear that I’ve had embroidered, as well as the beginnings of a Hero hat collection from Eagles and Angels–including a hat from the collection for Evan [Hafer], so Evan’s uniform that he wore overseas is in my son’s room. And I haven’t worn it, even though I really want to.”

Military service runs deep in Griswold’s family, even though he was unable to join himself (because of his eyesight). His father served in the Army, grandfather Jasper was a Purple Heart recipient who fought in both Vietnam and Korea. His great-grandfather fought in World War II, and his great-great-grandfather fought in World War I. Additionally, his in-laws both served in the Air Force, and his son’s middle name, James, comes from Griswold’s wife’s grandfather, who fought in World War II. The structure and respect for the military are just some of the many reasons why Griswold chose to start working for BRCC.

“My son is [also] a big part of the reason I made the decision to stop freelancing and working a full-time job at the same time and commit to working at BRCC,” Griswold explained. “When I was trying to make the decision, I thought, ‘How am I gonna tell my son to act a certain way and make decisions if I’m too scared to make decisions?’”

Photo courtesy of Johnathan Griswold.

“It’s very humbling to be around the people we work with and the people that BRCC helps in the veteran community,” Griswold continued. “I don’t work here just to draw cool stuff or make money; I take pride in my work because of the people I work with, the support for the military community, and I look forward to sharing those values with my son. He’s only 6 months old, but I know he’s already picking up on things that I do.”

“I always think, ‘How can I teach my kid to be a certain way if I’m not leading by example?’” Griswold said. “As a father, there are values I want him to embody so I have to make sure I am as well. I want my son to respect others, respect our country, [and] most importantly, respect himself.”