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Athletes for the S.E.T.H. Project workout fundraiser at Power Alley Crossfit / Photo by Beckie Boyd

S.E.T.H. Project inaugural workout fundraiser fights to end ALS, local CrossFit gym joins cause

BUCKHANNON – Strength. Endurance. Triumph. Hardship. The mission of the S.E.T.H. Project is a perfect representation of overcoming hardship while making a positive impact in our community.

The S.E.T.H. Project is a 501c3 nonprofit organization that was founded by Buckhannon native Seth Poling, who is seven years into his diagnosis of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as ALS.

More than 150 athletes from eight CrossFit gyms across West Virginia joined forces with the organization on Saturday to participate in the inaugural ‘I Don’t Have Much Quit In Me’ workout fundraiser to benefit ALS patients.

“We, from the S.E.T.H. Project, are so honored and so pleased with the turnout that we’ve had for this very first event,” said Sarah St. Clair, president of The S.E.T.H. Project. “People have come out who do not even know our founder, Seth Poling. They’re donating their time, on a Saturday, to be here, and they’re donating their money to help us achieve our mission.”

The atmosphere of Power Alley Crossfit, located at 6 Traders Alley in Buckhannon, was electric on Saturday. High-energy music was pumping through the speakers, sweat was dripping and game faces were on. Without a second thought of how much these athletes were in pain, each continued on and finished the grueling workout.

“We’re bringing light to a debilitating disease, realistically, as it’s taken a community member and other people in the state,” said Matt Tankersley, co-owner of Power Alley Crossfit, alongside C.J. Day. “There’s not a lot of help and research [for ALS patients], so the S.E.T.H. Project came to us with this idea. Immediately, we were very excited about it. I like anything that brings health [matters] to awareness and helping someone in need.”

The workout was no easy feat. The buy-in and cash-out consisted of 144 double unders and 10 rounds of 10 box jump overs, three power cleans, eight burpees and six toes to bar.

The exercises were not chosen at random. There is a meaning to each number: 144 stands for the 144 registered people with ALS across West Virginia and 10/3/86 is Seth’s birthday.

“[The workout is] really tough, it’s not easy — but battling ALS isn’t easy,” St. Clair said. “As these athletes sweat it out, we encourage them to think about those 144-plus people who are registered in West Virginia as people living with ALS and their families and what they battle through every single day.”

A former teammate of Seth and his family came out to support the cause Saturday.

“It’s encouraging to see all these gyms from across the state that are joining in this effort and want to remind Seth that we’re all here for him, even if we can’t be there physically — we’re all praying for him and he’s always in our thoughts,” said Mitchell Shaw, a Power Alley CrossFit member and former football teammate of Seth’s. “His journey is something that nobody would ever wish on anybody, but it’s inspiring to see him fight it the way he has. This is just one small, little token of showing that we are fighting along with him, mentally and spiritually. We are coming out to inflict a little self-pain [during this workout], but nothing near what he’s going through, and we all realize that. We’re all pulling for him.”

As the intense workout concluded, coaches and fellow athletes came together to exchange cheers, applause and fist bumps. The support and camaraderie of fellow athletes was something that Shaw valued about Power Alley CrossFit going into Saturday’s workout fundraiser.

“This is the most fun way for me to work out, coming to CrossFit, because the people keep you wanting to come back,” Shaw said. “There’s accountability there. The camaraderie that’s built here is perfect for me because it keeps me wanting to come back.”

The S.E.T.H. Project team encourages the community to take time to learn more about ALS and how the diagnosis affects our neighbors and loved ones by visiting the ALS Association website.

Learn how to volunteer and donate to the S.E.T.H. Project on their website. Follow the S.E.T.H. Project on Facebook to follow along their journey to #endALS!

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