FitCo Gym Massillon Tiger football player St. Jude Children’s Hospital

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NORTH TOWNSHIP – A 2014 washington high school graduate and former Tiger footballer – with the help of a North Township gym owner – help “lift” sick children by organizing a community fundraiser.

Blake Tombow, 26, who operates fitness brand SweatSpot, and Fitco Gym are teaming up to host a “Lift-a-thon” charity event this month to benefit St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee.

“St. Jude’s Hospital is a charity that strikes me as one of the purest I can think of,” said Tombow, a former Tigers defensive end. “No child should ever have to endure the hardships that cancer brings.”

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A charity lift-a-thon, or friendly weightlifting competition, is scheduled for August 20 at 10 a.m. at FitCo Gym, 6400 Wise Ave.  NW, North Canton.  The goal is to raise at least $3,000 for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.

The charity lift-a-thon, also dubbed a friendly weightlifting competition, is scheduled for 10 a.m. Aug. 20 at FitCo Gym, 6400 Wise Ave. NW. The goal is to raise at least $3,000 for St. Jude.

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FitCo owner Auston Papay said Tombow reached out a few months ago through a mutual friend to organize a fundraiser in St. Jude. It seemed like an easy call to accept the offer, Papay said.

“As a young father, my heart goes out to children who are suffering,” he said. “I want us (FitCo) to be known as a community gym.”

With several family members who have suffered from cancer or died from the disease, Tombow said he is thinking about how cancer might impact his future.

“As I think about having kids (down the road), helping end childhood cancer is something that really needs to be supported,” he said.

Local business sponsors have been lined up by Papay and Tombow to help with the event. Some include Renew and restore the wellness center, Ohio Brake & Lube, I make visits personalized bachelor trips, Rubber City Photo Booths, Ameriplex Seamless Gutters and Waynesburg Carriage Co.

Fitness, helping young people are strong passions

Physical fitness and helping children are strong passions for Tombow. And combining the two for a good cause makes sense, he said.

“I hope we can help alleviate some of the suffering that children are going through (by raising funds),” Tombow said.

Megan Ayers, right, leads a workout with Caroline Hong on Wednesday at FitCo Gym in North Canton.  The gym is hosting a Lift-a-thon charity event on August 20 to help raise money for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.

Donations of at least $10 each from participants are encouraged during the lift-a-thon. The competition is open to lifters of all levels.

“You don’t have to lift a ton of weight. It’s for anyone who wants to get out there and have fun,” Tombow said, adding that he hopes at least 30 people choose to compete.

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FitCo and Tombow have signed up for an online donation request through the St. Jude website, which is how local contributions will be sent to the hospital system.

The lift-a-thon should last between one and two hours, depending on the number of participants. Anyone 18 and older can participate, as well as teens 15-17 who have permission from a parent or guardian.

Contact Steven at [email protected]. On Twitter: @sgrazierINDE

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