During a Tony Robbins motivational seminar in Dallas, Texas, dozens of participants were burned after walking over hot coals. According to local officials, five of the injured were taken to the hospital for further evaluation.
Just after 11 p.m. Thursday, Dallas emergency responders rushed to the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center and found numerous firewalkers with burns on their feet and lower extremities. While the severities of the injuries were unknown, most people chose not to go to the hospital.
Tony Robbins has not spoken about the coal walking incident, but his company, Robbins Research International, issued a statement to Dallas station KTVT-TV Channel 11.
“In Dallas tonight, someone not familiar with the firewalk observed the event and called 911 erroneously reporting hundreds of people requiring medical attention for severe burns. While we are grateful to the quick and robust response from Dallas emergency services, only 5 of 7,000 participants requested any examination beyond what was readily available on site.”
The coal walk is part of a three-day Robbins event named “Unleash the Power Within.” Throughout the first day of the seminar, participants are taught how to achieve their “peak state” before walking across a bed of burning rocks.
According to promotional material, the self-help meeting is supposed to help participants break through personal limitations that may be keeping them from living a more passionate and fulfilling life.
“Overcome the unconscious fears that are holding you back. Storm across a bed of hot coals. Once you start doing what you thought was impossible, you’ll conquer the other fires of your life with ease.”
Seminar crew member Tad Schinke, who has worked at over 100 Tony Robbins events, said distractions like social media keep participants from properly focusing.
“I’ve seen people halfway through the firewalk pulling their phones out to video themselves,” Schinke said. “It’s frustrating. My job is to prepare them for the walk, but once they’re out on the coals, they’re on their own.”
One woman at last night’s event did not think her husband was getting enough attention from medical staff. Schinke said the woman called 911 and told the operator that “hundreds” of people were injured and multiple ambulances were needed.
This caused a major disruption to the focus of others and likely caused many to believe the situation was much worse than it really was. While it is common for attendees to get minor burns after the coal walk, Schinke said no one has ever experienced serious burns in the last 24 years.
Rafael Moret, a Tony Robbins follower for more than 20 years, has done coal walks at New Jersey and Florida events in the past and has not heard of anyone being severely injured. Likely, the ones burned last night were on their phone and didn’t pay attention to the instructions, he noted.
Firewalkers at the seminar also defended Robbins and his team.
“From my perspective, it was great,” Zia Nix said. “It’s not like it was quick instructions. We talked all day about overcoming our fears and mental preparation. Out of the 8,000 people that were there, only like four or five burned their feet. That’s not bad odds.”
Another attendee Pujan Patel said the coal walk went great for him and even danced with others after he made it across. There are always “idiots” at these events, he added.
Dallas officials were aware of the firewalk portion of the seminar well in advance, said convention center director Ron King. However, based on the events last night, Robbins may not be allowed to bring the seminar back in the future. The multi-day conference was previously held in 2014 without any reported incidents.
Despite the few who were burned, thousands of other people participated in the Tony Robbins coal walk in Dallas without injury. At every event, the company provides medical staff nearby as firewalkers do experience some level of pain or discomfort after the crossing the hot coals.
[Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images]