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SAVE A PAIR

CrossFit Excel honors three of its own with ‘Barbells for Boobs’

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SAVE A PAIR

Cancer survivors, from left, Gina Dickman, Lori Lippincott, and Andrea Pilkay get ready for Friday’s Barbells for Boobs at the Manteca CrossFit Excel.

HIME ROMERO/The Bulletin


POSTED October 7, 2013 11:52 p.m.

There is Helen and there is Grace – the iconic women of the CrossFit culture.

Each has the ability to knock a grown man to his knees … to make the human body seize and pant, spilling pain and exhaustion onto the gymnasium floor.

But when fully embraced, these ladies – these signature female WODs – have a way of lifting the human spirit, carrying it to physical and emotional heights never before imagined.

There is Helen.

There is Grace.

When asked about why many of CrossFit’s workouts of the day (WODs) are named after women, founder and president Greg Glassman answered simply:

“I thought that anything that left you flat on your back, looking up at the sky asking ‘What just happened to me?’ deserved a female name.”

You ready for this, breast cancer?

Helen and Grace symbolize the campaign underway among CrossFit franchises across the country. In fact, the two will share the marquee at CrossFit Excel this Friday for the gym’s first-ever “Barbells for Boobs” competition, a national fundraiser supporting breast cancer awareness.

Officially, the event has been named “Helen Meets Grace,” pairing the WODs in a team competition. Participants of all skill levels will complete each workout, racing against the clock.

While Helen and Grace collect national notoriety, locally, they’ve been supplanted in stature by three women with a degree in Toughness: Gina Dickman, Lori Lippincott and Andrea Pilkay – the iconic women of Manteca’s CrossFit Excel.

All three are breast cancer survivors, and the galvanizing forces behind Excel’s maiden voyage in the “Barbells for Boobs” fundraiser. CrossFit Excel has never hosted a competition like this, but owners Terry Dickman (Gina’s husband), Nick Hobby and Danny Lehr found it to be a fitting show of support.

In a passionate blog entry, viewed mostly by CrossFit Excel’s membership, Jessica Lehr, Danny’s wife, captured the essence of the local effort.

“When we are down, when are scared, when we are sick, we are there for each other, just like family,” Lehr wrote. “…. Gina, Lori and Andrea have fought through an experience more difficult that any WOD imaginable. Through their battles, their family has been there for them and we want to continue to be there for them and the 232,340 women who will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year.”

The response has been encouraging.

Already, registration has exceeded expectation. Certified trainer Derek Leong says participants are scheduled to arrive from all corners of the map – the Bay Area, Sacramento, Merced and Fresno.

“It’s going to be a pretty big event; at least 200 competitors from other CrossFit affiliates,” Leong said. “That’s the big thing – the community aspect of it. When it’s a good cause, everyone rallies around it.”

CrossFit Excel hopes to raise $15,000 for the cause, “but on a much broader level we hope to see hundreds of thousands of dollars raised by the CrossFit community,” Dickman added.

The money will be funneled into Mammograms in Action, a nationwide grant program developed by “Barbells for Boobs” that helps fund breast centers and breast health care providers. The grant was created to service low-income and uninsured women and men.

Early detection is paramount in the fight against breast cancer, Dickman said. Death rates from breast cancer have declined since 1989, according to the American Cancer Society, with early detection playing a major role in those decreases.

There are 2.8 million breast cancer survivors living in the United States. Three of them can be found routinely running, lifting and grunting at “The Box” on Moffat Boulevard.

Dickman was diagnosed with breast cancer nine years ago and has been in remission now for 30 months. Pilkay has been cancer free for more than five years and Lippincott a year.

On Sunday, the three gathered behind a “Barbells for Boobs” bra display in the lobby of the gym. They smiled for the photographer, encouraged by the breakthroughs they experienced and the ones they hope to inspire.

“You can’t mention one person at our gym that hasn’t been affected by this damn disease,” Dickman said. “One in eight women will be diagnosed with this. The stats are equally astounding for me.

“It’s amazing to be a part of something like this,” she later added. “It gets you out of your own space; it makes you look at the bigger picture.

“It’s amazing what people can do. It cost $80 to do one mammogram. You can save a life for $80. When you it in that perspective, it’s hard to (to get involved).”

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