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John Krotec of GreenZone Hero and Cheri Christiansen of Four Pillars have put together workshops to help veterans.
East County Tuesday, Sep. 6, 2016 4 years ago

GreenZone Hero busts through door of opportunity

Side of Ranch: Jay Heater
by: Jay Heater Managing Editor

John Krotec didn't buy the property he was seeking, but he sure felt better.

Expecting to find a real estate office at a place called Four Pillars at San Marco Plaza, the former volunteer coordinator at Nathan Benderson Park walked through the doors and started to look around for the listings.

Jay Heater
Jay Heater

Then he saw the massage tables and essential oils.

He was greeted by Four Pillars owner Cheri Christiansen, who doesn't sell homes, but instead is an agent of wellness. Krotec, who was somewhat embarrassed, and Christiansen began to chat, and the benefits of networking were on display in all their glory.

Krotec set up an appointment for Christiansen's wellness services that, in her words, seek to improve mind, body, spirit and social connection. A brain injury suffered in an auto accident four years before still plagues Krotec, who was having little luck with medicines.

When he returned for his therapy, the wheels really started turning. Krotec, a U.S. Army veteran, told Christiansen about his efforts to raise money and support for veterans. He ran some business ideas past her.

Christiansen suggested he change his idea to a certification company, a place that could identify safe havens, or a green zone, for veterans.

Krotec started thinking about a business plan before he got out the door, and two days later he had it complete working from his Sarasota home. GreenZone Hero was about to launch. The business went live on Feb. 29 and in three weeks had 27 companies signed up at $275 a year to be recognized.

For those of you unfamiliar with GreenZone Hero, Krotec wanted to provide tangible recognition by identifying businesses that give veterans their support. He began to place GreenZone Hero emblems on the doors and windows of those businesses, so shoppers could show their support by patronizing them. He created a networking list for all those who signed up.

Meanwhile, Christiansen made some business strides as well. Through her new association with Krotec, she started to think of ways to better serve the many veterans who live in the Manatee-Sarasota counties area. The two business owners collaborated on various projects to honor veterans. 

Eventually, Christiansen decided to participate in a "gratitude campaign" that includes Four Pillars hosting a PTSD workshop on Sept. 11 and a wellness event for Veterans Day.

Last week, Krotec and Christiansen got together to continue planning their "Kundalini Yoga: PTSD Recovery Workshop," which will be led by New York's Karisa Judith and will be held on Sept. 11 from 3 to 5 p.m. at Four Pillars in remembrance of one of the country's most traumatic events. 

In the world of Kundalini Yoga, described by the Huffington Post as a "meditative workout that puts emphasis on consciousness that activates energy centers throughout the body," Judith is a big cheese on a world-wide scale.

When it comes to Kundalini Yoga, I don't know a mantra from a chakra, but I do understand both Christiansen and Krotec have experienced one of Judith's sessions at Four Pillars in May and they now worship at the Kundalini alter.

The workshop, which costs $25, is open to everyone, but Krotec and GreenZone Hero became involved to see if he could get veterans to participate. Christiansen emphasized the workshop is more focused on breathing, so anyone can do it.

In addition, Four Pillars and GreenZone Hero also are working with Chinese Medical Solutions of Sarasota to host a wellness day on Veterans Day called "Helping Heroes Heal." The event will be held Nov. 5 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

For more information on the events, go to or

A chance meeting in Lakewood Ranch, like so many others that take place every day in our community, seems to be paying dividends.

Perhaps Krotec didn't go through the wrong door.

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