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Posted January 10, 2013 | comments Leave a comment

Fundraiser to benefit Newtown victims

Shenandoah CrossFit will host workout Saturday at facility from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

By Kim Walter

On Saturday, community members young and old are invited to Shenandoah CrossFit in Winchester to participate in a Sandy Hook workout fundraiser.

Jessica Gustafson, a 21-year-old coach at the facility and former Shenandoah University student, said the fundraiser will benefit the Newtown Memorial Fund -- set up to provide financial support to families of victims of the Dec. 14 shooting -- as well as create scholarship funds to honor the victims.

From 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, anyone ages 5 and older can work out through the CrossFit method, which includes a 12-minute session combining several short, intense exercises.

Gustafon said that admission is based solely on donations, with no minimum amount set.

The adult session will consist of 14 kettle bell swings, 20 sit ups, six jumping moves and one 100-foot sprint. Gustafon said the numbers associated with exercises represent the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Conn. The number 14 is for the day the tragedy took place, 20 is for the 20 children lost, six represents the adults who lost their lives and the final sprint is for the shooter's mother, Nancy Lanza.

All movements will be demonstrated before participants begin, and CrossFit coaches will be on hand during the workout to assist.

The children's workout will be a bit shorter, and will also incorporate coaches to help as it's needed.

Gustafon said attendees are welcome to go through the workout more than once. Additionally, once participants have finished the exercises they are invited to stick around and cheer on others during the event. Spectators not wishing to be a part of the workout are also welcome, free of charge.

No CrossFit experience is necessary, as the workouts were purposefully designed with beginners in mind, she added.

All proceeds from the event will go directly to the Newtown Memorial Fund, Gustafon said.

Shenandoah CrossFit, which is relatively new to the area, is a program with constantly varied functional movements performed at high intensity. The movements incorporated in workouts are those that would be found in every day life.

Gustafon said that all exercises are done in a class environment with vigilant coaching, and the team atmosphere means "the last person to finish is just as important as the one who finished first."

Athletes and first-time exercisers are using the facility, she said.

"We have everyone from former D1 athletes to people have literally just started their road to health due to life-threatening health concerns," Gustafon added.

The organization has a long-standing policy of community service, according to the coach.

"We believe it is important to give back both to our local community and to communities experiencing sudden, outstanding need or loss," she said. In November, Shenandoah CrossFit organized a fundraiser for money and goods after Hurricane Sandy struck.

"We do these fundraisers much in the same way that organizations host 5K runs," Gustafon said. "We design workouts to have significance related to the events we're supporting so that people actively remember why we're giving of ourselves. I do think that one of the saddest fallouts of school shootings is that after the first few weeks, people forget the victims and remember the shooter."

For Gustafon, the Newtown Memorial Fund's idea of setting up separate scholarships in each of the victim's names is "a great way to keep [the victims] in mind."

Currently, the facility, located at 661 Millwood Ave, Suite 104, is expecting around 100 people. However, if people would like to donate, but can't attend the event, Shenandoah CrossFit is accepting donations until Tuesday. The checks can be made to Shenandoah CrossFit with Sandy Hook designated in the memo line.

"We don't have a monetary goal set," Gustafon said. "We would just like people to give what they can ... really, we want to open up our location to the community as an outlet to show support to the Newtown community."

Questions about the fundraising event can be directed to shenandoahcf@gmail.com. For more information on the Newtown Memorial Fund, visit newtownmemorialfund.org.

Contact staff writer Kim Walter at 540-465-5137 ext. 191, or kwalter@nvdaily.com

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