City of Hope Fitness for Hope at SweatThe holidays are around the corner. Give yourself the gift of fitness and good will by joining the fine folks at Sweat Fitness. On Sunday, November 24, 2013, Sweat Fitness presents “Fitness for HOPE” to support the life-saving efforts of City of Hope. It’s a perfect opportunity to burn some calories before the holiday eating fest, while giving back to one of our favorite organizations.  Since this time of year is also about family, make sure to meet the amazing family that is behind this longstanding charity event. We did a special interview with the entire team, and their story is one we simply had to share!

On Sunday, November 24, 2013, from 10:00am to 1:00pm, at the Queen Village Location (700 Passyunk Avenue), Sweat’s best trainers will offer four different classes in spinning, wonder track, boxing and personal training. On top of getting your workout on, you can swing by to buy a raffle ticket for a Breakaway Bike. Additionally, Santa loves a one stop shop! Grab those holiday gifts checked off your list by purchasing a commemorative t-shirt, or winning some items in the silent auction.  For the classes, raise or donate $50 or more, and receive a gym bag valued at $50.  Holidays have you strapped? Drop by for a raffle ticket, grab a shirt or make a donation for a pink ribbon that line ALL Sweat Fitness locations. No matter your budget or schedule, there’s an option for everyone!

As you may know, City of Hope is the official charity partner for Philly Loves Fun. Why did we pick this one group instead of spreading the love? First, the folks do amazing, life-saving work right here in our own community of Philadelphia. Second, the stories of donors, patients and staff have compelled us to want to give and give again. Read about Tracy Shannon (owner), Keisha Williams (Sales Director, Center City) and Holly Waters (Operational and Aquatics Director and Personal Trainer) – and the entire Sweat family – that are the driving force behind Fitness for Hope.

Sweat Fitness has partnered with City of Hope for fourteen Fitness for Hope events. While some charity relationships are all about the marketing benefits, or simply contributing to one’s community, the story here goes much MUCH deeper. Tracy’s mother Joyce Shannon Tracy and Holly’s dad Karl Waters both had cancer and passed away. Both now work tirelessly to honor their memories. Keisha is paying tribute to her father Rodney Williams, who is a cancer survivor. Keisha is so dedicated, in fact, to helping pay tribute and help others like her Dad, that she has made it her personal mission to line the entire gym of Sweat’s Center City location with pink ribbons. When we paid her a visit, not only did she meet this goal, she has collected enough donations and ribbons to cover the gym lobby.  When we entered the lobby the outpouring of love was inspiring. When we left the lobby and spied the track covered in pink, we were awe struck.  Keisha says “It’s our way of engaging our Sweat community and inviting the larger community to join our efforts.”  The shirts, Keisha explained, are designed special for the event and will help promote this special and very personal day, while bringing awareness to City of Hope.  Tracy added that she will be taking some of the classes herself, and that she’s been touched by the outpouring of support by the instructors and fitness students. “Our instructors have been announcing Fitness for Hope before classes.”  Takes all of us to fight the fight…bring awareness to Sweat family that breast, prostate and lung cancer are real and affecting people we know – and want to bring it to the public’s attention today before it affects your moms, dads, sisters, brothers and yourself,” Keisha added.

When we spoke to Tracy, she was kind enough to share the story of her mom.  “I lost my mother, Joyce Ann Shannon, to lung cancer on November 28, 1997- the day after Thanksgiving. She was 49 years young. I have missed her EVERY day since she lost her battle to cancer.  My mother fought lung cancer for over a year and a half.  I have never watched someone fight with all their might to beat such a beast only to be defeated. I continue her fight by raising money for City of Hope. “I stand behind City of Hope and believe that they will find a cure for cancer.  Their research has advanced cancer treatments and is giving cancer patients a fighting chance to beat cancer. I started my career at Sweat one month after I buried my mother. Fitness for Hope is a pinnacle event for Sweat and many of my Sweat life long friends and colleagues, Donna Storm, John Rosado, Holly Waters, Laura DeRiggi. and Keisha Williams, to name a few, support the event. 

Tracy has pride when she talks about other members of the Sweat family giving back. “Donna Storm, Sweat’s group fitness director, a fitness expert and avid fundraiser for charities, is a founder of Workout for Hope. She has hosted or co-hosted Workout for Hope since its inception. Donna is a co-founder and co-host of Sweat’s Fitness for Hope. John Rosado, who I met on my first day at Sweat, is a great personal trainer and a a regular supporter of our Fitness for Hope event. John has always felt like a brother to me. When his mother, Peg, was diagnosed with cancer. I could see the worry in his eyes. Fortunately, John’s mother WON her battle with cancer. Thank you Peg—you are an inspiration and give Hope. John continues to support Fitness for Hope through hard work and dedication. Laura DeRiggi, is a cycle instructor at Sweat Fitness. Laura has been an instructor at Sweat since the day the doors opened. Laura has taught a two hour cycle at every Fitness for Hope. She is out to demolish cancer.  Every year she walks in to teach, says “here is some money towards the event, oh and put my next paycheck to City of Hope. Tracy says she brings tears to my eyes every year. Holly Waters, is another life long friend and Sweat colleague that is passionate about City of Hope and its mission. Holly Waters, a “Best of Philly” personal trainer and instructor at Sweat, left the corporate world of NYC to work at Sweat. She wanted fitness to be her life. I asked her to email me what City of Hope means to her. I didn’t want to alter her email because I think it shines light on her career choice and dedication:

“I ran my first race with him…He cheered me on every day of his life…Cancer took him away from me. I miss him so much it hurts...Carl K. Waters showed me how much fun fitness could be at a very young age.  He traveled near and far so I could hear his screams of encouragement.  He fought so hard to live to my first Boston Marathon but cancer took him Nov 3, 2004 at the age of 55. I continue to work hard to make him proud and the Fitness for Hope which I have been apart of for the last 9 years continues to help me honor him and dedicate a wonderful day of fitness to an honorable and dedicated Dad.”

This Sunday, please join these wonderful folks, and our friends at City of Hope, and come work out as if your life depended on it – as it may someday. Cancer can affect us at anytime – and affect those we love. What not a better way to get our minds and bodies into shape for the holidays, while giving back and supporting the efforts of these amazing folks! Any donation is welcome. Register here. Donate here

About Philly Loves Fun

A blog about Philadelphia's fun and unique adventures, arts, events, food and opportunities.

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