MakeWODsGreatAgain Rows for Dylan’s House

April 10, 2023 by
Photo Credit: John Wooley
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John Wooley, the man behind the MakeWODSGreatAgain Instagram page, is taking on an important challenge. He is doing a fundraising row to support Dylan’s House, an Ohio-based nonprofit organization that aims to promote independence for autistic individuals.

The details: On May 6 around 7:30 AM ET, Wooley will climb onto an Assault Fitness rower, and he will complete one meter for every dollar that has been donated on GoFundMe. The goal is to reach $42,195, which would equate to a full marathon. Wooley will livestream the event so people can either root for him or bask in his suffering. 

  • “I’ve done a full marathon row before and I’m a decent rower,” Wooley said. “Like I’m tall for a CrossFitter, I’ve got long legs, so I enjoy rowing. Although, admittedly, I don’t enjoy rowing a full marathon.”
  • “My thought was, If we were going to raise money for them, we need to do something that would–particularly since they’re outside of the community–something that maybe would give people a reason to donate besides just the charity.” 
  • “I’ve got people who love me and I’ve got my share of haters. And I figured for people wanting to spend money to watch me punish myself on a rower for three-and-a-half hours, I’d do it.”

The background: Back in 2022, Wooley and Dr. Tom McCoy joined Jennifer Pishko to become co-owners of Chagrin Falls CrossFit. This move gave Wooley a larger platform to focus on philanthropic efforts, which had become a key part of his meme page as it grew in follower count. 

  • “We were discussing fundraising,” Wooley said. “We were kind of looking for something local, something within Cleveland that kind of fell within what we’ve been doing. And Dylan’s house was founded by a guy I’ve known for years through the banking industry. He’s in investments, I’m in retail banking. 
  • “I’ve known him for decades, and I knew his son – his oldest son – was autistic. And they had found this charity. So what they’re trying to do is really outstanding there. Basically helping autistic individuals get independence. …So they’re getting these individuals homes and then assistance for caregivers.”

Wooley has shown support for multiple foundations, such as the OUT Foundation, but he wanted to use this potential marathon row as a way to highlight an organization that is not part of the CrossFit community. Doing so would only help showcase the importance of fitness, and it would lead to a healthier relationship with those in the local communities. 

  • “I think for us, the story is that CrossFit is bigger than just the fitness that happens within our four walls,” Wooley said. “We have to get outside of our community and start talking to others and help other charities outside of our community.”
  • “If we’re going to grow our business and bring in more people – and I think in this case, the people that are most vulnerable, that need our help the most, are people in the adaptive community.”
  • “Those are the ones that need fitness more than anything else, and the only way you’re gonna get them in is to be more inclusive, which means getting outside of the four walls.”
  • “If CrossFit’s main function is to get more people to walk in the doors of our affiliates, then we should be more inclusive, not less inclusive. More people, not less people, more divisions, not less divisions. So that’s kind of the point of this for us locally.”

Why a marathon row? There are multiple workouts that Wooley could have used to raise money for Dylan’s House. He could have done weighted step-ups, burpees, or a variety of movements. Instead, he went with something that challenged some of the fittest humans on the planet during the 2018 CrossFit Games. 

  • “It seemed like a reasonably hard challenge. Like, if we’d said, ‘Hey, I’m gonna get on the C2 Bike,’ any a****** can get on a C2 Bike for a couple hours. It’s not hard, but if you’ve got to sit there and row for three hours, that’s hard. It’s not insignificant.”
  • “People know how bad it is, which is partly why I wanted to do it if people would be willing to kind of punish me. Mostly, one of the best advantages to raise money for the charity as possible, regardless of what that meant physically. I thought this would give us our best opportunity to do so.”

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