NORTH CANTON – A 2014 Washington High School graduate and former Tiger footballer — with an assist from a North Canton gym owner — are helping to "lift up" ill children by hosting a community fundraiser.
Blake Tombow, 26, who operates SweatSpot fitness brand, and FitCo Gym are teaming up to host a charity "Lift-a-thon" event this month to benefit St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee.
"St. Jude hospital is a charity that sticks out to me as one of the most pure I can think of," said Tombow, a former defensive end for the Tigers. "No child should ever have to endure the hardships that cancer brings."
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The charity lift-a-thon, also dubbed a friendly weightlifting competition, is planned for 10 a.m. Aug. 20 at FitCo Gym, 6400 Wise Ave. NW. The goal is to raise at least $3,000 for St. Jude.
FitCo owner wants North Canton gym to be known as 'community-driven'
FitCo owner Auston Papay said Tombow reached out a couple of months ago through a mutual friend about hosting a St. Jude fundraiser. It seemed like an easy call to accept the offer, Papay said.
"As a young father, my heart goes out to children who are suffering," he said. "I want us (FitCo) to be known as a community-driven gym."
With multiple family members who've suffered from cancer or died from the disease, Tombow said he thinks about how cancer could impact his future.
"As I think about having kids (down the road), helping to end childhood cancer is something to really get behind," he said.
Local business sponsors have been lined up by Papay and Tombow to assist with the event. Some include Renew and Restore Wellness Center, Ohio Brake & Lube, I Do Tours custom bachelor trips, Rubber City Photo Booths, Ameriplex Seamless Gutters and Waynesburg Carriage Co.
Fitness, helping youths are strong passions
Physical fitness and helping kids are passions that Tombow holds strong. And combining the two for a worthy cause makes good sense, he said.
"Hopefully, we can help alleviate some of the pain children endure (by raising some money)," Tombow said.
Donations of at least $10 each from participant are encouraged at the lift-a-thon. The competition is open to weightlifters of all skill level.
"You don't have to lift a ton of weight. This is for anyone who wants to come out and have some fun," said Tombow, adding that he's hopeful that at least 30 folks will choose to compete.
FitCo and Tombow have registered for an online donation application via the St. Jude website, which is how local contributions will be sent to the hospital system.
The lift-a-thon should last between one and two hours, depending on the number of participants. Anyone age 18 and older may participate, as well as teens 15 to 17 years old who have parental or guardian permission.
This article originally appeared on The Independent: FitCo Gym Massillon Tiger football player St. Jude Children's Hospital