Fight for Freedom Competition Returns for Year Four, Supports The Weekly Fight’s Mission to Turn Post-Traumatic Stress into Post-Traumatic Growth
On November 4, CrossFitters from the Tri-state area and beyond gathered at RIV Athletics in Wilmington, DE for the fourth annual Fight for Freedom, a functional fitness competition supporting The Weekly Fight, an organization dedicated to turning post-traumatic stress into post-traumatic growth.
The big picture: Fight for Freedom was started in 2019 by Chris Townsend, owner of CrossFit Petram in Middletown, DE. CrossFit Petram is one of the many gyms affiliated with The Weekly Fight, a nonprofit started by former Marine Marty Kenny after he lost a fellow Marine in 2015.
- CrossFit gyms affiliated with The Weekly Fight host free workouts on Saturday mornings for veterans, first responders, and their family members in hopes of reducing veteran suicide rates and supporting healthy lifestyles.
- The nonprofit is built on three pillars: a crisis management fund, which helps with anything a first responder or veteran may need (from utility bills to funeral expenses), a scholarship fund that benefits the higher education for children who grew up around PTSD, and education around shared experiences and trauma.
- “The main essence of The Weekly Fight is to have a space for people to go if they need. It’s not always about the workout. When folks are going through things, they need to know there’s a place they can go to and talk to someone,” Townsend said.
“The Weekly Fight became more prevalent in our gym,” Townsend continued. “The coaches wanted to do a fundraiser, and we came up with the idea to get all of the gyms in The Weekly Fight together.”
(At the time, there were between eight and 10 Weekly Fight-affiliated gyms in the area.)
- “We had no expectations [as] to how big it would get,” Townsend added, noting due to the growth, it’s not possible to get all the gyms at Fight for Freedom anymore. “The first year, we raised $8,000, and from there, it kept growing.”
Last year, the competition raised $35,000 for The Weekly Fight. This year, Townsend and his team are hoping to reach $40,000.
About the competition: Fight for Freedom is a fully volunteer-led team competition. The teams, made up of two female and two male athletes, complete four scored workouts, with a fifth “fundraising WOD” that impacts 8% of their score. Proceeds raised go primarily towards The Weekly Fight’s scholarships and resources for families combating the fallout of post-traumatic stress.
Honoring Hometown Heroes: In the past, Fight for Freedom based their four workouts on traditional CrossFit Hero WODs.
This year, Fight for Freedom paid tribute to the heroes in their own hometowns.
On competition day, Fight for Freedom honored four individuals from the participating CrossFit boxes in their four workouts. These individuals were nominated by their CrossFit communities because of their remarkable stories, and each were celebrated in one workout.
The Hometown Hero workouts honored:
- Melissa Hemphill, a coach at CrossFit Petram, member of the Air Force Active Reserves, and instructor at the Air Force Academy.
- Phil Sawyer, a veteran of the Navy and member of CrossFit Thunder Hill in Oxford, PA.
- Steve Bart, a member of the Delaware National Guard and part owner of CrossFit Reconstructed in Hockessin, DE.
- Marty Kenny, founder of The Weekly Fight founder and Marine veteran.
The bottom line: Fight for Freedom not only raises vital funds for The Weekly Fight, allowing the nonprofit to help those in need (just last week, Kenny said funds raised for The Weekly Fight helped them cover a veteran’s utility bill), but provides another opportunity for veterans, first responders, and their families to forge a community of support.
“I don’t have a military background,” Townsend said. “But I do know, without a doubt, [Fight for Freedom] brings the military, first responders, and law enforcement together. You see them talking and building relationships. It’s all the classic CrossFit stuff: putting it all out there, suffering together, and celebrating everyone.”