CrossFit Workout Honors Fallen Soldiers, Raises Money for Military Families

CrossFit athletes at Iron Cross Athletics Phoenixville PA were among the thousands who participated in the 31Heroes workout last year Photo courtesy of Iron Cross Athletics
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CrossFit athletes at Iron Cross Athletics, Phoenixville, PA, were among the thousands who participated in the 31Heroes workout last year. <i>Photo courtesy of Iron Cross Athletics.</i></p>

Hundreds of CrossFit gyms across the country will have the same WOD (workout of the day) on Saturday as part of a national effort to raise money for military families.

The 31Heroes WOD was created by the 31Heroes Project, a nonprofit organization that formed in Virginia Beach, VA, to help military families after 30 U.S. service members and one military working dog were killed in action in Afghanistan on Aug. 6, 2011.

Mackenzie Tobin, co-founder of the 31Heroes Project and a military spouse, says that she and the other founders felt an immediate need to honor the service members and to help their families. The group, which was active in the local CrossFit community, had the idea to hold a workout fundraiser.

Four weeks after the crash, the 31Heroes Project held the workout, which Tobin says received an unexpected and overwhelming response from CrossFit gyms across the country.

"We thought that maybe we'd have a small-scale event with 100 athletes and maybe raise $30,000," Tobin says. "We ended up with about 420 affiliates and almost 10,000 people participating or purchasing a shirt. It was pretty remarkable."

After seeing how enthusiastic facilities and participants were about helping military families, Tobin says the team decided to make the event annual. The fundraiser has now raised more than $600,000.

The exercises included in the workout are meant to honor the 31 heroes. The WOD lasts for 31 minutes and features an 8-6-11 rep scheme to represent the date they died. It also requires a partner, which is meant to symbolize the men's teamwork.

Proceeds go to Snowball Express, an organization that arranges gatherings for children who have lost a parent in action, and the Travis Manion Foundation's challenge grants program, which helps surviving military families complete memorial projects.

The event grew by about 20 percent last year, and Tobin says she hopes to see similar gains this year. The 31Heroes Project also has expanded to include an all-sports competitive racing team and other fundraising fitness events that range from boxing to obstacle courses.

CrossFit gyms can register to host a workout and find event tools online. People interested in participating in the workout can find an affiliate and register on the organization's website.

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