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Local gym lifts to serve family hit with cancer

POSTED: August 9, 2014 10:00 a.m.
Photo Courtesy John Dobbs/

John Dobbs dead lifts 560 lbs. during Saturday's event. He tied with Brian Johnson for the victory.

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Members of Winder’s Pump’N Iron Gym came together to help one family tragically afflicted family with their first annual We’re Pulling For You charity dead lifting competition.

“Kids don’t have a fighting chance so we have to fight for them,” John Dobbs, the event’s organizer, said. 

Dobbs had originally planned the event to benefit a family friend whose son was born with cancer. The young man in question was diagnosed at just 2-months old and was not expected to live past age 3. He is now 14-years old, however, and still fighting the good fight.

Despite their own need, the family of Dobbs’ original beneficiary put him on to another family in dire need of assistance. They knew of a single mother with two children living in Sugar Hill through certain support groups whose child is currently dealing with brain tumors and the prognosis is not encouraging.

“They said they appreciate what we wanted to do, but they wanted us to do it for her,” Dobbs recalled. “So I contacted the mother and told her all about the event that we’d already planned and I let her know, ‘All proceeds are going to you.’”

For the first two months of planning, Dobbs and company had expected to raise money for one family. Now, in the last week, they were changing plans up for the sake of helping someone else I need.

With the change of plans, Dobbs spread the word to let participants and fans know what was going on using social media. With his announcement, great things started happening. 

“People started coming out of the woodwork letting us know that they wanted to donate and help out as soon as they heard about this family’s story,” Dobbs acknowledged.

When the day of the event finally came on Saturday, Aug. 2, everyone involved raised approximately $800 for this local family in need. 

The ten competitors each paid $20 to participate, but spectators contributed by buying raffle tickets and continuing to offer donations. 

“It was a great event. We had burgers on the grill, there was dead lifting, we were socializing and everybody was having fun,” Dobbs mentioned.

Dead lifting is a straightforward event where lifters pick up weights and put them straight down. As simple as it sounds, though, the amount of weight alone makes up for any perceived lack of difficulty. 

Dobbs was one of two competitors to max out at 560 lbs. In doing so, he tied with Brian Johnson for the title as champion of the first annual event. Ellie Dekle won the women’s division with 350 lbs.

“This year was sort of a trial run. We got together and decided that we want to keep doing this every year where people will nominate somebody and we’ll vote on the cause we’re raising money for,” Dobbs explained.

With the emphasis on helping others and raising money for people in need, Dobbs says he’s just doing what he thinks is right.

“My biggest thing is this, and it goes back to something my mom told me once: ‘It’s great to have muscles and all that strength, but if you can’t flex your biggest muscle, your heart, then it’s all for nothing,’” Dobbs said.

“I’m never going to be up there with the pros making money lifting. I’m never going to be a professional football player or anything like that, but if I can use my gift to help other people, that’s everything.”

According to the American Childhood Cancer Organization, approximately 13,400 children between birth and 19-years of age are diagnosed with cancer each year. 

Childhood cancer is also the most common cause of death for children and adolescents in the United States of America.

The numbers and the statistics are secondary for Dobbs, though, who has his own reasons for fighting back against childhood cancer.

“I have a 6-year old daughter, so it hits home for me,” Dobbs explained.

Although it may be too late to save the child Dobbs and his gym raised money for, the family still has plenty of needs that can be met.

“It hurts to lose a child, of course, but then you have funeral expenses and hospital bills to pay. That’s the forgotten cost people don’t talk about,” Dobbs reminded.

The $800 already raised will go a long way, but they dream of bringing in even more.

Anyone who wants to help or donate can call Dobbs at 815-703-3322. 



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