Fire-Walkers Defend 'Awesome' Tony Robbins
Attendees at coal-walking seminar blame other distractions for injuries
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 27, 2016 8:01 AM CDT
Paramedics tend to injured participants outside Tony Robbins' "Unleash the Power Within" event at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center in Dallas on Friday.   (Michael Hamtil/The Dallas Morning News via AP)

(Newser) – Tony Robbins has taken a lot of heat since dozens of people at one of his seminars were injured last week in Dallas while walking over hot coals. But not everyone is breathing fire on the motivational guru. First, and not surprisingly, Robbins' rep Jennifer Connelly defended the "Unleash the Power Within" exercise, per NBC News, in a statement: "Seven thousand attendees successfully participated in a fire walk [that] has been a celebrated part of this event for 35 years." And while she also expressed her gratitude to emergency responders who treated what the Washington Post reports were 30 to 40 "burn victims" (five had to be hospitalized), she noted outside assistance really wasn't necessary, since Robbins' events always have medical personnel to treat the small percentage ("fewer than 1%") of attendees who may get "hot spots" on their feet during the hot-coal stroll.

Local officials appear to back up Connelly's assessment: A rep for the Dallas fire department tells the Post that Robbins' group had all necessary permits and that there were two fire-prevention officers, two paramedics, and a rescue unit on hand. And the director of the Dallas convention center where the seminar was held notes Robbins did the coal walk there two years ago "without any incidents that we are aware of." But perhaps Robbins' strongest defenders are those who actually attended the event, with fans praising him as "awesome" and insisting that attendees distracted by taking selfies and even the outside medical response may have exacerbated the problem. One gushes to NBC about Robbins' "unique gift," while a six-time attendee says, "All of a sudden you had these ambulances showing up—sirens blaring, lights blaring—and we've still got people trying to walk." He adds Robbins' past seminars have been "an amazing, outstanding experience every time."