Year Three of our growing CrossFit business was marked by new beginnings and opportunities to grow our community further, both in size and in breadth of culture.
First of all, our third year marked our second location, as we quickly grew out of our 500-sqft space and graduated to a big-boy space near Matapeake Beach. Those that have seen both locations know that we now have a lot more “room for activities” at our new spot, but the cozy feel and established construction of the old gym is missed sometimes. Throughout the years we’ve had a terrible time with water leaking in the front of the gym when it rains (pretty sure buildings are supposed to be waterproof), we can tell from inside when it’s windy outside, and we’ve been visited by more wildlife in this more rural location (plenty of birds, prehistoric dragonflies, a squirrel, and even a couple snakes have entered the gym without a membership!)
Overall, though, we have enjoyed our extended beach vacation, and looking forward to many more years to come.
As we built the space out, we also felt the need to cover the huge bare walls. Josh, a former Navy linguist and current environmental scientist, has at least one more hidden talent – he is a brilliant artist! Josh can take a rough idea and very quickly turn it into a creative image. Over beers one night we came up with the plan, “our gym slogan is ‘Get Awesome’, and my last name is Wolf.” Within a couple days, Josh had several versions sketched out on his computer of what would be our first mural. Those of you that have seen it in color on the wall and on our t-shirts can appreciate the simple but elegant and energetic design. Josh also created, drew and painted on the wall the CFKI trident that towers above the equipment racks, as well as several shirt designs. Thanks Josh!
Not long after opening up our new location, we learned that one of our members, Brian, was very sick. His two sons had been working out with us for a while to get ready for their lacrosse seasons, and he had recently also begun to get into CrossFit himself. He hadn’t been to the gym in a while so I called him to follow up. We didn’t know at the time exactly what was up, but he knew he was too weak to workout. Brian was diagnosed with polyarteritis nodosa (PAN), a super-rare disease that attacks multiple organs and the immune system. It is so rare that although the most effective treatment option is chemotherapy, which Brian started immediately after his diagnosis, his insurance company refused to pay his hospital bills because he was getting chemotherapy when it was “not medically necessary”. Having a background in health insurance (and fighting health insurance companies on behalf of hospitals), I got to work on his medical claims. We also decided that we needed to do something to help Brian and his family out with their financial situation in the meantime. In November of 2014 we hosted an open competition named “Fight For Brian” that featured three workouts and a great lunch and get-together afterward. We were able to provide Brian and his family with over $9,500 in donations from our members and his friends and family. As I write this, I am still stunned by that figure – that our small community could generate such a big financial response to a crisis. But as you will see in future posts, at CrossFit Kent Island we consistently rise to the occasion when one of our community, our family, is in need. We discovered in November 2014 that one of our core competencies, and indeed one of our values, is Service.
Over the years we would consistently come back to Service as something that genuinely binds our CFKI family, organizing community fundraising events that benefited the American Diabetes Association, the Navy SEAL Foundation, our own members and neighbors displaced by the infamous Kent Island tornado, and of course women who need but can’t afford mammograms through Barbells for Boobs, of which we were two-time state champions for fundraising. A small community gym just should not be able to raise as much money as we have… but maybe that is what makes us such a strong, active, and close-knit community.
Our members care for each other and those that are less fortunate, and live with a mindset of generosity and abundance. At the core of our collective purpose is Service. At the end of Year Three, I could not have been more proud to be a part of this community of givers, friends, and leaders.