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This article was published 29/3/2019 (198 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
The community at Midtown Barbell is helping with the heavy lifting for a young girl battling acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
Dave Beakley, co-owner of the Osborne Village gym and fitness facility, is hosting the Deadlifts for Dreams fundraising competition on March 30 in support of The Dream Factory and two-year-old Maya Chernichan. It's raised $20,000 and counting for the local charity.
Maya was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia in August 2018 and has been through five phases of chemotherapy, which is expected to continue for the next two years.
"The idea of kids being sick and not being able to possibly enjoy the same lifestyle as healthy kids, isn’t fair to me," Beakley said of his involvement with The Dream Factory.
"If you can put whatever strengths you have in place to provide some sort of happy memory for them and take the stress off the family… is what really drew me to it."
The deadlift competition has attracted 25 powerlifters from across Manitoba and North Dakota in a bid to be the strongest participant and biggest fundraiser. Each competitor is required to raise a minimum $200 for the cause but that goal was quickly exceeded. Along with hauling in hefty donations, some competitors are expected to lift weight in the 700-pound range at the event.
Beakley said he was pleasantly surprised by the number of people from across the city who signed up to support the cause.
"In a small city like Winnipeg, everyone has their gym and they’re very brand loyal," Beakley said. "So to go to another gym and compete and help them do something good… it shows the kindness in the lifting community, that people put egos aside and come together for something good like this."
Vince Chernichan, Maya’s father, said his family is overwhelmed by the support to make Maya’s dream come true.
"It’s surprising to see people from all walks of life across Canada, and even into the U.S., are supportive of a cause like this," Chernichan said. "It’s very surprising and we’re very grateful for everybody who has contributed."
Each day is filled with unknowns for the family, Chernichan said. Maya has weekly blood tests to evaluate how her body is responding to treatment, and to determine whether she can get out of the house. The high doses of chemotherapy also takes a toll, but Maya hasn’t let cancer slow her down.
Chernichan says Maya would like to one day visit a Disney theme park (she loves princesses and The Lion King, particularly Timon and Pumba), but it’ll be about two years time before she will be well enough to make the trip.
"We’re definitely very grateful and it’s been a wonderful experience meeting a guy like Dave," Chernichan said. "It’s heartwarming to know that there are people out there willing to make this kind of dedication and sacrifices for people they don’t know, and support kids who are fighting a really tough thing and having a tough part of their early childhood."
Beakley said Deadlifts for Dreams will become an annual event, adding another element to his work in the community.
Last fall, he donated $2,500 to The Dream Factory through the Our Manitoba Heroes gala. The former University of Manitoba Bison football player had been selected by the organization as one of their heroes for his work in northern Manitoba, running touch football camps with CFL players, establishing fitness facilities, and giving motivational speeches for kids on reserves.
"I had the idea for Deadlifts for Dreams brewing in my mind for a while. After making a relationship with The Dream Factory, it made me realize —between my facility and my knowledge of powerlifting and what they do from the charity side of thing — it could become a possibility," Beakley said.
"To know it’s going to such an incredible family, I’m very lucky to be a part of all this," he added. "It makes me grateful that I got over myself to step forward and put something like this on, to get over that fear of failure, and it drives me to start planning for next year."
Danielle Da Silva
Community journalist — The Sou'wester
Danielle Da Silva is the community journalist for The Sou'wester. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org