As your average gym goers, chances are we have all seen someone who is a little bit intimidating. You know- the girl who runs twice as fast as you, the person who is at the gym before the light of day and of course the "big guys" in the weight room. Their muscles are big, they can lift more than you and often we can hear them doing just that.
Southside Athletic in Burnsville Minnesota is not your regular gym with treadmills lined up like dominos and TV's playing Kelly and Michael. It's different. It has a kind of electricity, possibility hangs in the air. Turf covers 2/3 of a large warehouse space, but the walls are white and have bright graffiti of a hooded figure holding dumbbells. A trainer is working with a client, who is lifting chains grunting through side raises. Still, it's not only the out of the ordinary equipment, it’s the people too: they are relentless. Power lifters who hold a deeper purpose, a higher calling. Southside Athletic is the birthplace of Relentless MN, a meet where world-class athletes come together to show strength who is boss.
A DREAM AND A PRAYER
It all started in 2011 when Mike Hamilton hosted the first Relentless power-lifting meet as a fundraiser for a friend. He approached insider Scott Nutter for help and together they brainstormed an event that would change power lifting and more importantly, change people. Mike Hamilton and Scott Nutter prayed and brought their dream to God on the first day they met about the power lifting fundraiser. As Mike says, “From then on, it truly became God’s plan. God opened door after door and it came together, really, without a hiccup.”
After hours of prep and planning, the meet was a huge success. The first Relentless MN had raised over $10,000, but it was far from over. Afterwards, Mike and Scott were approached by one competitor after another, all asserting, “This was the best meet I’ve ever been to, we have to do it again.” And they did.Hamilton and Nutter wanted to do more than simply raise money, they wanted to raise hope. Enter Hope Kids, a tax-exempt organization working to restore hope to the lives and families of children with life-threatening medical conditions. Hamilton approached the President of Hope Kids, Josh Taylor at church and Relentless had a vision and now a mission. “Our mission statement is "to build relationships, change lives, and serve God by uniting strong men and women with even stronger children" says Hamilton.
The focus truly is on the kids. At the MN relentless kick-off event at the end of January, families and Hope Kids flooded into Valley Christian Church in Rosemount MN. As they walked in the door, puppies greeted them, “hope heroes (aka, super heroes of all kinds) took photos with them and each one got a Relentless coloring book featuring the power lifters themselves. There were 60 of the strongest men and women from the US and Canada at Valley Christian Church that had braved Minnesota in January to be there for the kids at the kick off. Many of the same world record holding lifters and Hope Kids with their families come back year after year to the inspiring meet. In the lobby, I watched familiar faces greet each other, unlikely hearts joined in friendship: a small boy with a shirt that reads “Pain is real, Hope is real” and a bearded giant with a Mohawk and tattoos smile and laugh together. There in the lobby of the church, huge men and women with the strength of armies were humbled by the hearts of these fragile children
The kick-off was all about the kids; it was a reunion, a show and party all at one time. Two men took the stage to bench press an astounding 1000 lbs each. Children were invited on stage to lift their best and learn a lesson on never limiting their talent and power. Former members of The Conquerors Strength Team tore phone books, bent horseshoes and handed out tee shirts. There were photos with the power lifters and the hope hero’s after and a pizza party. Every moment of the kick -off was for the kids and about the kids.
As I spoke to veteran Relentless participant and Power lifter Pamela Bosko she gave me
insight into the event from her perspective. When asked why she lifts for Relentless and Hope Kids, she answered, “Quite often we underestimate the power of our passion and our talents.
When we share those, its powerful.” Just then a group of 5 or so kids ran up to where we were and surrounded her therapy dog, everyone of them excitedly petting him and squealing his name: “Bobo! Bobo! “ She turns to me and says, “ They don’t always remember my name or how much I lift, but they always remember Bobo. It’s about the kids, connecting with them and their families.”
One such relationship is that between Marshall "The Freakshow" Johnson and a Hope Kid named Carter. They were instantly bonded, kindred spirits, they simply loved each other. Marshall visited carter in the hospital and stays in touch with his family. Marshall organized a group of power lifters to help Carter’s family move—because everyone loves big strong men and women coming to cart boxes and furniture. Relentless founders Hamilton and Nutter saw the unique relationship and said, “We need to cultivate opportunity for others to recreate that.” Hundreds of lifters came forward and teamed up with kids to "raise hope" and so Team Hope was born.
BIG LIFTS, BIG HEART
Relentless MN 2015 is March 27 and 28 at Valley Christian Church in Rosemount. This year, nearly 125 world record holding power lifters will be invited to compete. The meet has a limited amount of spots, but those lifters on Team Hope who continue to build relationships and change lives, continue to be invited. Just like so many of us, these world record holder power lifters long to be part of something bigger than themselves.
Mike Hamilton assures, “After all the kilo's have been lifted and the chalk has settled, what matters on the relentless stage is not the numbers, what matters is your heart. And I have seen some amazingly big hearts. Relentless strives to not just simply throw money at a cause...we recognize that money solves nothing. We see ourselves as the salve, and the ointment. We see ourselves as a healing agent, maybe not physically, because we know we cannot add a single day to the life of these kids, but we strive to constantly add life to the days that they have. That's what Relentless is. That is why we do what we do.”
Relentless is March 27 and 28 2015 at Valley Christian Church, the public can purchase tickets at the door. $5-10, kids free
Noon -9 Friday March 27
8 am - 9 am Saturday March 28
For More information on Hope Kids mission and Relentless Power lifting meet:
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