When one of its gym members was diagnosed with ALS last year, Sport Fit knew it had to do something to offer some support.
The local gym is now rallying the community to help raise funds for Severna Park native John O’Brien at Sport Fit’s second annual Big Night Out on September 7, catered by Garry’s Grill.
At last year’s Big Night Out, Sport Fit raised more than $2,000 for the Kellie Thompson Shiley Family Trust Fund. Shortly after the event, the gym learned that one of its own members was diagnosed with ALS.
“When we put together Big Night Out last year, we really wanted to do something for the community, because we really feel we are the neighborhood gym,” said Sport Fit Fitness Director Joe Bocek. “When John was diagnosed, we decided we needed to do something for him and to help him. It’ been a year in the making.”
O’Brien is a Severna Park High graduate, and a longtime local resident. He and his wife are also both members of Sport Fit.
Bocek said O’Brien used to come to one of his evening fitness classes frequently, and once he was diagnosed with ALS, it really hit Bocek how quickly the disease progressed.
“You don’t appreciate how horrible the disease is until you know someone who has it,” Bocek said.
All proceeds from Big Night Out will go directly to O’Brien and his family. Bocek said ticket sales, funds from the event’s auction items and donations throughout the night will help the family with some of the expenses they have recently undertaken—such as making their house wheel-chair accessible.
Despite his recent diagnoses, Bocek and Sport Fit fitness consultant Mandy Schultz said O’Brien’s optimism and spirit have remained intact, which only further solidified their decision to fundraise for him.
“John O'Brien is an amazing man,” Schultz said. “While his body deteriorates, John has maintained his positive outlook and his sense of humor. He inspires anyone he meets and he needs his community's help.”
Big Night Out will be held September 7 on the patio outside Sport Fit. Tickets are $40 in advance or $50 at the door, and include a meal from Garry's Grill and unlimited beer and wine. To purchase a ticket, call Sport Fit at 410-432-6140.