A few months back I received an invitation to Relentless Detroit on Facebook. Like many other Facebook invites I didn’t pay too much attention to it. Well at least not until I received private messages from two old friends JJ Thomas and Clay Brandenburg. Both of them are guys that I truly respect and have always bent over backwards to help me out at meets when we crossed paths. It didn’t matter if I was competing against one of the Detroit Barbell members with money on the line. They still catered to me just as much if not more than they did their own team mates. They made me a part of their family. So when they asked what it would take to get me to show up at Relentless Detroit I really wasn’t sure what to do. I had pretty much decided prior to this that I was done for the year and wasn’t going to do anymore meets in 2012.
I started reading up on Relentless and watched some of the video’s on the internet from the past Relentless meets. Seeing what a good thing was being done by Relentless I decided I wanted to be a part of it and wanted my son Hunter to be a part of it as well. So I committed 100%. I train year round so this was nothing different for me. I got myself into a competitive mindset and dealt with whatever issues the weights and my body gave me.
I reached out to all of my sponsors and a few friends for their support. Rhino Power Gear’s owner Shelley Dennison was the first to jump on board and sent me generous gift package for the cause. Then MHP followed suit and sent a generous gift package, Swollen Knuckles clothing line owner Tony Ramos went above and beyond and sent autographed photo’s posters, fight gloves from his Sponsored UFC fighters along with Swollen Knuckles clothing. David Douglas owner of I Am Beast clothing stepped up as well and sent a gift package. My buddy Joe Ross fabricated an Olympic Dumbbell for Kroc Rows and a drag sled for the Silent Auction as well. I was overwhelmed by their support.
With only a few weeks left until the meet I stole and idea from Jake Prazek who was also attending Relentless Detroit. I used Face Book and created Austin’s Angels @ Relentless Detroit event page and solicited pledges for my lifting. All the pledges were given to Austin Valentine’s family. Several of my friend’s stepped up to support the cause. I will try not to leave any names out and apologize in advance if I do. Thank you Jamey Sanders, Anthony Pick, Rudy Delgado, Dan Graucholz, Roger Ryan, Randy Houseworth, Dustin Minks, Dave Janssen, Jake Baker, Erik Anderson, Chris Johnson, Rick Cavasos, Rudy Rosales, Dennis Mclaughlin, Chris Diver, Willliam Dixon, Theresa Janc. I’m sure I am forgetting some additional names.
Leading up to the meet I had frequent contact with Tommy Westhoff. This guy never sleeps. He answered text messages, face book messages, and emails within minutes regardless what time of day or night they were sent to him. Tommy gave it his all to see that this event went on without any issues. He catered to all the lifters, volunteer staff, Kirby Church, and most importantly Austin and his family. He kept everyone informed on the meet’s progress leading up to it. He kept everyone informed on how Austin was doing. How he was able to do all this and still manage to train to be a competitor in the event as well is beyond me. I was ecstatic to see Tommy have a great meet.
The week of the meet was pretty stress free for me. I had about 12 lbs to cut which is pretty easy anymore. Thursday I work part of the day and then loaded up my truck and Picked Hunter up from school and we got on the road. A 6 hr drive turned into a 9/12 hr drive when we hit dead stop traffic just outside of Chicago. I was easily irritated and still had about 5 lbs to drop. Finally pulled into the hotel lot at 10:45 PM. I was shot. Hunter and I unloaded the truck and settled into our hotel room. I spent about ½ hr in the hot tub and then called it a night. I got a few hrs of shut eye. The alarm went off shortly after 4:00 AM I got up to check my weight. Still had about 2 ½ lbs to go. Turned the bathroom into a sauna spent two 30 min sessions in the self made sauna and then went back to bed.
Hunter and I headed to weigh ins right at 9:00 AM on Friday. I weighed in about 2 tenths of a lb under. Visited with Zeminn, JJ Thomas and a few others from Detroit Barbell. Headed back to the hotel with Tim Hensley and got hydrated, 4 bags later I was back up to 286 and hungry. I snacked on some of the groceries I had in the room. I promised Hunter I would let him swim.
We headed to the pool and hung out with Marshal Johnson and Scott Nutter for the next hour poolside. Hunter had a blast with Marshall. After swimming Hunter picked Pizza Hut for lunch. No argument s from me so we headed to Pizza Hut and killed a pizza and a boat load of wings.
After lunch we headed back to the pool for an hour or so saw a lot of the lifters rolling into the hotel including my crew. We all headed to Kirby Church to check out the meet site. I really didn’t know what to expect having a meet at a church. But the set up was awesome. Spacious warm up room. There were several volunteers getting everything put together. There was a cool feeling in the air. I knew then and there that something great was going to take place.
A large group of us went out to dinner and then hung out in the hotel lobby shooting the breeze until I was ready to call it a night.
Meet day I woke up and checked my weight…………. 290lbs. I was ready and excited. As we pulled into the meet site the parking lot was already packed and several people were already there. The meet was run great. The energy in the air was 2nd to none. This meet was unreal 70 plus lifters and tons of things going on. A local catering service provide free food for all the lifters. I later found out that they donated all the food and their time. Just awesome. They had a massage therapist donating her time and all proceeds went to Austin. A free photo booth on hand to get pictures of everyone that attended for a scrap book for Austin and his family, Raffles & Silent auctions, face painting for the kids, a petting zoo, cartoon artist for the kids, a movie rom for the kids, live stream of the meat in every room of the church. They spared nothing.
In the twenty plus years of competing I have never experienced something so powerful as this meet. Tommy Westhoff, Detroit Barbell, Kirby Church and everyone else involved made this event one that will be next to impossible to top.
Onto the lifting……….. Warms up felt like normal light and the shirt felt tight. All the hand offs were spot on and I’m not sure who was handing off a different member of Detroit Barbell stepped in on each hand off to help my training partner Pete Knutson hand off to me all day long. There was a different kind of intensity and pressure for this meet. I wasn’t nervous but I knew I had to get one in. I couldn’t let Austin down and I had plenty of people supporting me to raise money. My opener was conservative but didn’t go as planned which lately they seldom do. 930 lbs locked up ½ inch from touching and I had them take it. On my 2nd attempt I jumped up to 950 lbs had a heck of a time touching and misgrooved it on the way up, no lift. Normally I would be panicking after missing two attempts. I was calm and made myself focus more for my 3rd attempt. Austin was seated in the crowd and I came to perform. I brought the bar down a lot faster and got a press command the weight went up a little slower then I like but I got the lift. 3 white lights and after a 4 yrs I finally hit a PR in multy ply. At the time it seemed irrelevant. I was happy to get a lift in because I knew that was more money for the Valentine family. I jumped off the stage and headed right to Austin and gave him my wrist wraps.
I was able to spend some time with Austin and his dad James throughout the day. Both are awesome people and I will remember this day forever. My good friend Ken Richardson was on hand to get some god pictures with me and Austin. Thanks Ken!
I have to single out one lifter. Marshall “Freakshow” Johnson. This was my first time meeting him in person. He is the Hulk Hogan of Powerlifting without a doubt. The kids all flocked to him all weekend long. It didn’t matter what he was doing he stopped everything to tend to the kids. There was nothing fake about him he is a very humble man and came out to the event per a request from Austin . Injuries didn’t stop Marshall from performing. I won’t go into his injuries but it was obvious he was in pain during all of his warm ups and each of his lifts on the platform. He made his 1000 lb squat look effortless. All around impressive lifter on and off the platform.
Relentless Detroit raised over $30,000.00 for Austin Valentine and his family. It was an unreal experience that anyone in attendance will cherish forever. Relentless 2013 will be held in Minnesota this coming March. I’m asking all the big name lifters to step up. Lets forget about the sanctions and show up to support the Hope Kids Foundation.
"Let bravery be thy choice, but not bravado."
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