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Affiliate of the Month: Getting Behind All the Causes for a Decade and Counting at Big Lick CrossFit

October 2, 2023 by
Photo Credit: Big Lick CrossFit
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For Traci and Doug Polumbo, gym ownership has always been about more than a place for physical fitness. 

They opened Big Lick CrossFit in Roanoke, VA almost 10 years ago and, as Traci said:

  • “We try to grab onto anything we can to get behind the community we live in.” 

Since 2014, Big Lick CrossFit has raised money for every cause imaginable—cancer, military veterans, police dogs, youth resilience, people who have fallen on hard times, or anything else they or their coaches want to support.

  • “We just wait and see what comes our way and what we feel we can get behind,” Traci said.

The details: The list of fundraisers Big Lick CrossFit participates in every year is a long one and includes doing the workout Rowan every September—named after a local girl, Rowan Price, who lost her battle with leukemia at the age of 4 in 2019. The workout raises money for childhood cancer.

  • Each year since 2014, they have also participated in Memorial Day Murph, always donating to the Lt. Michael Murphy Memorial Scholarship Foundation.
  • Collecting food donations for Orchard Hills Achievement Center—a local organization dedicated to children with limited resources—at Thanksgiving has also been an annual endeavor for the Big Lick community, as has collecting and donating toys and food at Christmas.
  • Further, in 2019, they also hosted a 24-Hour rowing event—Row for Reveille—a fundraiser that raised money for wounded warriors and veterans returning from active duty, and in 2022 they helped raise more than $50,000 for the family of a Caleb Ogilvie, a local officer who was killed in the line of duty. 
  • Most recently, last year they hosted two new fundraisers: One for Forging Youth Resilience (FYR), an organization that empowers youth to build physical and mental strength, and one for the Botetourt County Sheriff’s K-9 unit, an event they’re hosting again this October. 
  • On top of hosting events, the Polumbo’s also make their gym available regularly to YoungLife, a non-profit dedicated to youth adults with special needs, and to a local high school, who regularly sends their PE classes on field trips to their gym at no charge. 
  • Finally, although they don’t advertise it, the Polumbo’s also provide scholarships in the form of memberships on a case-by-case basis to students or members who have fallen on difficult times and cannot afford the gym.

The big picture: When they first opened the gym, Doug said to Traci, “You can’t be generous with people if you can’t pay your bills,” Traci remembers.

Nearly a decade later, the Polumbo’s have found a way to do both. 

  • “We have been able to run the business in a way that it’s profitable, (but also) allows us to give back to the community and be more generous when different opportunities arise,” Traci said. “This is absolutely a passion business. My husband and I have a couple other businesses that we run, but this is the one that we really get the most joy (out of).”

What gives them so much joy, she explained, is watching people benefit from their community. 

  • “I think everybody wants to make their community a better place to live, and what you put into other people, you receive as much or more than you’re giving,” she said, adding that she credits her coaches for constantly looking for creative ways to use the gym to give back to the greater community. 

She added: “And the gym really gives us a venue. It provides us opportunities left and right to do that and to put those words into action.”

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