Here’s a cause that’ll be hard to resist for dog-loving Crossfitters: Barbells For Bullies. An all-volunteer operated 501(c)3 non-profit organization based in Kennesaw, Georgia, Barbells For Bullies is dedicated to “fostering a fit community and championing the bully breeds” while working with local charities and rescues to find forever homes to all kinds of pets.
But how do they do it? Through fitness competitions they host all over the nation with “workouts dedicated to and inspired by these tough but playful dogs”. 100% of net proceeds from events and merchandise sale go directly to local bully breed and other dog rescues, as well as other non-profits that help these loving animals. But not only that; volunteers that run Barbells For Bullies foster and sponsor dogs to get out of foster care and into loving and caring homes.
How did it all begin? Co-Founders Alexander and Lindsay Castiglione tell their story that may hit close to home. Lindsay explains, “In 2014, our beloved 120-pound pit-mastiff mix suffered serious health issues. [After doing everything we can to save him], it wasn’t enough, we lost him and were absolutely devastated. After several months of grieving and healing, we decided it was time to get another dog. The house felt so empty without his thumping tail or burly body snuggled against us.”
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She continues, “We went to a local Atlanta shelter to bring home a new pup. While there, we couldn’t help but notice two things. There were far too many dogs there, and they were virtually all bully breeds. Stocky frames, big heads, and sorrowful, soulful eyes looked back at us. We went in for one and ended up leaving with two puppies.
“For several months, Alex thought about what he saw, and tried to work through how we could make an impact. Being avid fitness people and Crossfitters; an idea hit. What if we coupled the rabid support of the bully and rescue community with the equal fervor of the Crossfit community? So in June 2016, we organized what was supposed to be a one-off Crossfit Competition in metro Atlanta–and it was a huge success!
“We had over 75 competitors and raised thousands! We were so floored by the support of the fitness community, we did another one in November 2016 with equal success, and donated even more money to Friends to the Forlorn Pit Bull Rescue. Then we started to hear from people in LA, Denver, New York, and all over the US that had the same issue in their locale, and we felt like we were on to something.
“In 2017, we did events in 7 cities, and in 2018, 10 cities. To date, we’ve raised and donated over $65,000 to local rescues in a bit over 2 years. We have much more in store for 2019, and can’t wait to make an even bigger impact, shedding light on the overpopulation of shelters and the myths surrounding the bully breeds.”
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And why should you support this cause? An obvious cynophilist, Lindsay is passionate in her words, “Well, I’ll give you a cold, hard, and absolutely tragic fact: 1.2 million dogs are euthanized in shelters each year, and over half of them are labeled “pit bulls.” 1.2 million. That’s equivalent to the population of Dallas, Texas, and that’s unacceptable. Moreover, sedentary lifestyles and poor diet are killing humans at an alarming rate in this country, and we wanted to affect change in both arenas.
“T’hat being said, we want to tell everyone to get out, get active; and it doesn’t have to be Crossfit. We host Strongman, Powerlifting, and Weightlifting competitions as well; but we want people to foster, donate, volunteer, adopt, advocate, educate. We can all make a difference, one rep, one random act of kindness at a time. In fitness, we’re always chasing that new PR, that unattainable yoga pose, that aesthetic we are striving for. Why not put that drive and zeal to good use and help animals in the process?”
Well, we’re convinced.
For more information about ways to get involved with Barbell For Bullies, including hosting a competition at your gym, check out www.BarbellsForBullies.org.