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This fundraiser ended on 10/11/12

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CrossFit 781 is reaching out to the CrossFit community to raise money for an amazing man- Mr. John Collins. Please show your support!

Hello fellow CrossFitters, My name is Danielle Bjorkman and I am the co-owner of CrossFit 781 in Weymouth, Massachusetts.

Just over four months ago, a friend of mine, Joe Masley who is one of the coaches at Reebok CrossFit One in Canton, called me to ask me a favor. He asked if I would be willing to take on a member at our gym- a man named John Collins. He then proceeded to tell me about John: John was told about CrossFit by a friend of his, who then got him in touch with Austin Malleolo, a beast of a Games competitor and RCF1’s head trainer. Shortly thereafter, Austin had John come to the gym for John’s first ever workout. Their workout consisted of: John rolling his wheelchair over 40 yards of turf, and then, walking up and down the parallel bars (both hands on the bars)- five times. After those simple tasks, John was hunched over and could hardly catch his breath.

Twelve years ago John’s car was t-boned in the middle of an intersection by a woman who blew a red light. The steering column collapsed on John’s lap and his left hip was completely shattered. The accident left John confined to a wheelchair 24/7. He could no longer work, and no longer do MANY things that most people take for granted. Time passed, and physical therapy proved (after two years) to simply not be challenging enough; John had never even walked without the use of his walker during physical therapy. With nowhere to turn, John became depressed; and as the depression came, so did the weight gain.

When Austin met John he was 496 pounds. At that time in May, Austin was just in the thick of his training for the upcoming 2012 CrossFit Games. Being a head trainer, a competitor, AND part of the Level 1 CrossFit staff, Austin’s time was limited, so he asked his coaches if anyone knew of a box that was close by to John’s home. Luckily, Joe and I had known each other for quite some time. Joe called me to ask my thoughts. I told Joe that day on the phone that I had always wanted to see someone through a massive weight loss, though I never thought it would happen so soon.

The first day that John was scheduled to come to CrossFit 781 for the first time, it dawned on me on my way there that we had no handicapped ramp. My face completely went white as I thought about having to disappoint John and tell him that I wouldn’t be able to accommodate him. Much to my delight, when I walked into the door of the box, I saw John sitting in our foyer 25 minutes early, a huge smile on his face. I asked him how he got up and he just said, “Oh, I used my cane and just went slow!” Those were the first three stairs that John had walked up in 12 years.

Fast forward to today, September 24th, 2012. John amazes me every single day. His spirit is unmatched, and his motivation and dedication rival the most competitive athletes. When I tell him 10 reps, he does 11. John has accomplished goals that he could’ve only dreamed of a short time ago: he has lost a total of 56 lbs, he gets in and out of his pool every single day, he can walk the entire perimeter of our gym several times, and even does modified Tabata workouts, all while still being able to breathe- and breathe well!

When I first met John, I told him we were going to slowly cut certain foods out of his diet, bits at a time so that he wouldn’t have to go ‘cold-turkey’ and set himself up for failure. Instead, John asked all the foods that we would eventually be cutting out and then said, “Okay, I’m ready- I can cut all of this out.” Since that day, John has been 100% Paleo, withOUT any cheats. I don't know about you but I don't know many people with the determination to do that.

Now that you have a little bit of background of who John is and what type of guy he is, I’d like to let you know what news John received last week, and why I’m asking for the support of our community: John did not come to our session on any one of the days that we typically train last week: Monday, Wednesday, or Friday. He left me a message on Sunday night saying that I probably wouldn't see him the upcoming week because he had some things at home to take care of. This was VERY unlike John, as he has only missed three or four of our 50 workouts to date. When John came back this morning, he informed me that his wife Eileen had to file for bankruptcy last week. Five of her co-owned franchises down in Virginia completely shut down due to the declining economy, leaving her and her sister- her partner- with no other option. Furthermore, Eileen just got out of the hospital the previous week and is recovering from back surgery. John and Eileen had to empty their savings and surrender all credit lines as well. The only revenue they are relying on right now is John’s social security check. To make matters more difficult, they have three children: one in his freshman year at college, and two others in high school and middle school.

I am kindly asking any of you who read this story, who are in a position to, to please give a small donation to John and his family so that they can enjoy a Thanksgiving and Christmas. This is a man who has every excuse in the world to not try hard, yet he is the hardest working member that we have in the 781 family. He has put in so much time and dedication to CrossFit, I only feel that it is fair that our community gives back to him in some small way. Thank you for reading his story!!

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