CrossFit South Rockland

Sunday, March 25, 2012

CrossFit brings breast cancer awareness to Forward Operating Base Fenty

NANGARHAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Across the globe, thousands participate in activities during the month of October to raise awareness for breast cancer. Soldiers civilians stationed on Forward Operating Base Fenty decided to raise awareness in a very unique way; with “Amazing Grace.”

Amazing Grace is a CrossFit-inspired weight lifting competition comprised of 30 clean and jerks (a ground to overhead lifting movement). CrossFit Jangali, an Army-run CrossFit Affiliate based at FOB Fenty, teamed up with Mammograms in Action, a non-profit breast cancer awareness program based out of California, to host the fundraiser Oct. 17.

“CrossFit affiliates have partnered with Mammograms In Action and have been participating in (the competition) since 2009,” said U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Tommy Meza, Coachella, Calif., native and non-commissioned officer in charge of the Civil Affairs team assigned to 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, Task Force Bronco.

The event was initially hosted at one location in 2009 by Zionna Munoz, founder and president of Mammograms in Action. Over the last two years, Amazing Grace has spread to five countries, 42 of the U.S. states and garnered over 5,000 participants, raising in over $300,000 in donations annually. Funds are raised directly through affiliates or online.

“Money is raised online through (a website) and 100 percent of the proceeds go to Mammograms in Action to provide funding for qualified women and men who need screening and/or diagnostic procedures in the prevention of breast cancer,” said Meza.

Many of the participants of Amazing Grace here on FOB Fenty have been personally affected by breast cancer and have seen loved ones through the disease.

“Most of the participants had someone close to their hearts who battled breast cancer, so taking part in the fundraiser was an easy decision,” said U.S. Army Spc. Leighann Wilkins, a Lee, N.H., native and transportation management coordinator with the 339th Movement Control Team attached to the 3rd BCT, 25th ID, TF Bronco. “My grandmother, Charlotte, won her battle against breast cancer.”

“This is just one of those events that’s a no-brainer for me,” said Meza, “My best friend’s wife is a breast cancer survivor, so any chance that I get to help or participate is a must for me.”

U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Alicia Bradbury, who hails from Pen Argyl, PA and is an communications specialist with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 3rd BCT, 25th ID, TF Bronco has a very special relationship with a breast cancer survivor.

“My mother is a breast cancer survivor,” Bradbury said. “Every year since she was diagnosed, my sisters and I have run a race or fun run to commemorate her remission, but this year I could not be with them so it was important I do something else, despite me being deployed. There is so little you can do when you are out here (in a combat zone), so I thought this would be a fun, interesting way to support breast cancer awareness.”

The main objective of the event was to not only raise awareness, but to fund services those with breast cancer who are in need.

“The most important part of the program is the ability to help people who otherwise would have no help,” said Jim Shelby, a U.S. civilian contractor who is employed on FOB Fenty.

“It feels great to contribute to a great cause,” said Wilkins, “Our workout last merely minutes while those battling breast cancer have a much longer, trying journey. It’s the least we can do and we were happy to show our support!”

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