Who are you calling an old dumbbell?

These dumbbells and I have spent a lot of time together over the past two and a half years.  When I first started lifting at the Carlisle YMCA in October of 2009 those dumbbells on the left, the ones with numbers on them like 15, 25 and 30, got a lot of attention.  Today I spend more time with the ones with 55, 70 and 80 on them. I have touched them all at some point.  I intimately know every imperfection on each one.  Some don’t match their same weight partner.  Some of the heavier dumbbells have bent handles.  Some have worn, smooth handles while others still have serrated grips.  They all are a little rusty.  Some of the rust has worked into the calluses on my hands. A point of pride for me, much like my scares.  All the dumbbells smell a little like the inside of the old World War II submarine sitting in the water at Baltimore’s Inner Harbour.  The smell of steel that’s been around people and sweat for a long time…

The YMCA needs new dumbbells.  However, replacing them just isn’t in the budget during these tough economic times that have forced many non-profit’s budgets to get “lean and mean” in order to continue to provide the services that their communities desperately need.  When I was blessed to win the Eagle Rare Life Award for Survival last month, the Carlisle YMCA received $2000 as the award.  We talked about the best use of the money and we all agreed that putting it toward new dumbbells fit on a number of levels.  First, the Y needs them and like I said, they aren’t really in the budget.  Second, as already mentioned, I have an intimate connection to the dumbbells. I use them a lot as part of my daily workouts. Third, and most important to me, new dumbbells would last for a very long time.  People for years to come would be able to use them to improve their health.  Maybe even someone going through what I have gone through…

The best dumbbells on the market are urethane dumbbells.  They are basically indestructible.  They require very little maintenance and they last forever.  They are also the most expensive.  A new set will cost between $6000 and $7000.  Far more than the $2000 donation from Eagle Rare.  I have taken it upon myself to try to raise as much of the additional cost as possible.  In the past I have donated the money I earned giving talks to my home parish, St Patrick.  For the short-term, it will go toward the dumbbells.  I feel that strongly about seeing them come to fruition. (If you have been thinking about having me talk at an organization you are involved in let me know.  For a donation to the YMCA, I will talk at no charge.)  Until this point, I have only shared my goal with the YMCA board and a few friends.  Already, a great supporter of the YMCA, and of me and my family, has stepped up and donated $1000 toward the dumbbells.  I can’t express to them how much that donation means to me.  I am still always amazed by the kindness and respect people show my family and me.  It constantly forces me to stay true to my goal of using our accident to help as many people as I can.  God puts so many great role models in front of me every day…

Now I am reaching out to you.  Today the Carlisle Sentinel will run a story about my goal to get the YMCA new dumbbells. (Read it here.)  I hope that it will bring attention to the fact that the YMCA isn’t just a gym.  It is a family.  As I sat in the lobby yesterday around noon being interviewed, I said hello to no less than 15 people coming and going.  They are just a small number of the people there who support me every week with words of encouragement and a true interest in how my recovery is going.  They are the same people who tell me how I motivate them.  The ironic part is that they actually motivate me.  Like so many people who have taken a vested interest in my recovery story, I don’t want to let them down.

They deserve the fancy dumbbells that the chain gyms have, not because anyone will lift more weight or get stronger faster.  They deserve it because, just like me, they don’t go there because of the equipment.  They go there because of the people.  The new dumbbells will be a gift from those people who understand and respect the importance of working hard for what they want.  I can’t wait to see the smiles in the mirror as people use them!

If you would like to help, click on this link (Donation) and you can make an on-line donation.  Make sure you select “John Ulsh Dumbbell Fund” under the heading, “Do you want your donation to be affiliated with a specific Campaign? You can also send a check made out to the Carlisle Area YMCA to 311 S. West Street, Carlisle, PA 17013. Make sure you put a note in the envelope stating that is for the dumbbells.

Thank you for your continued support!


Who are you calling an old dumbbell? — 1 Comment

  1. Update on the Dumbbell Campaign: As of May 2, 2012 we have raised $4020 towards the $7000 goal! Thank you so much to all of you that have donated. We are getting close…

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