Event honors veterans through sweat, raises money for fallen soldier’s family


WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — While some people spent their Memorial Day at the beach, others were sweating with appreciation. And it was all in honor of fallen servicemen.

Folks at CrossFit Wilmington say this just isn’t another holiday. They’re spending their Memorial Day getting fit and remembering those they have loved and lost.

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“Memorial Day means a lot to me,” retired Marine Eric Guender. “It’s pretty important, I mean, we pay homage to the fallen, but for those of us who have been there, and actually seen our friends get killed, carried their bodies to the vehicles, it’s a pretty big day.”

Guendner retired from the Marines earlier this year after he was wounded in combat. He said he wanted to spend his memorial day remembering those he served with. He said the military style workout that was part of Monday’s event is what helped him recover after his injury.

“It means a lot,” Guendner said. “I watched a good friend of mine right across from me get killed when I got wounded, so I don’t walk around every day saying, ‘Oh this is a blessing,’ but I’m pretty happy with what’s going on.”

CrossFit Wilmington owner Tony Cowden said the “Murph” workout is named after a fallen Navy SEAL named Michael Murphy. Cowden says the workout is intense and takes a lot of hard work.

“The ‘Murph’ is run one mile, 100 pull-ups, 200 push-ups, 300 body-weight squats and then run one mile,” Cowden said.

Cowden said the Memorial Day event honored a fallen soldier and his family.

“The fundraiser today is to raise money for the college funds of the sons of Master Sgt. Ben Bitner,” he said. “Ben was killed in action in Afghanistan on 23 April, 2011. Easter weekend.”

Cowden said instead of just having another day off, folks are sweating for fallen soldiers.

“Instead of going to the barbeque or out on the boat today, we’re here,” he said. “We’re gonna show them. We’re gonna honor them with a little sweat.”

So far, Cowden says CrossFit Wilmington has raised more than $6,000 for the Bitner family.

If you’d like to help, visit http://woundedwarriorproject.org.