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Crossfit

Aidan Malinowski and Jordan Suarez before their fundraising cross-country trip. Photo by Julianne Mosher

They’re using CrossFit to go cross-country.

Jordan Suarez and his friend Aidan Malinowski, both SUNY Cortland students who are avid CrossFit participants, are planning to visit a gym in each state starting May 17.

The reasoning isn’t a vacation by any means — they’re hosting a fundraiser that will help raise money to go towards the Wounded Warrior Project. 

“We both have veterans in our family,” Malinowski said. “And we both are into CrossFit — it’s been a huge part of our lives, especially this past year with the pandemic and quarantine.”

The plan is starting this week, the duo will be going to one CrossFit affiliate gym in every state in the U.S. (excluding Alaska and Hawaii). By doing workouts at each place, they will ask fellow CrossFit members for donations and plan on spreading awareness about the nonprofit that has helped saved thousands of lives. 

In just two months leading up to their travels, they have already raised almost $6,000.

“We really just want to spread the awareness,” Malinowski said. “One big thing that stood out to me is that a $20 donation to Wounded Warriors gets them a one-hour session of PTSD treatment, which I think is amazing.”

Suarez said they will kick off their trip at the Port Jefferson Station location and then take the ferry up to Connecticut. The goal is to be back home by June 14.

“Wounded Warriors helps out any veterans that have been hurt, whether it’s physically or mentally during their time in the military,” he said. “It’s just a great organization that gets them the necessary resources to help them recover.”

The two Port Jefferson locals teamed up with the foundation about three months ago. That’s when they were introduced to Jeremiah Pauley, currently in California, who is a spokesperson for WWP. 

Jeremiah Pauley

Pauley deployed to Iraq in 2006 as a staff sergeant in the U.S. Army. Four months into the deployment, his team had cleared a house in the city of Tal Afar, and just as they left the house to go back outside enemy forces detonated an improvised explosive device. Shrapnel shredded through Pauley’s right arm, and if it weren’t for the immediate treatment he received from his team’s medic, he may not have survived.

Later on, he found out that one of his soldiers died in the attack. Pauley was overcome with survivors’ guilt and PTSD.

For years, he struggled with depression and he almost took his own life as a result. He received a call from WWP who invited him to a multi-day cycling event, Soldier Ride. 

Utilizing the services from WWP, his recovery progressed, and he eventually took a job working with the nonprofit. 

Pauley said he, too, is an avid CrossFit enthusiast, so when he got a call from two young men on the East coast looking to fundraise using the gyms, he was completely on board. 

“They submitted a request to do a fundraiser with the organization so that the money can be tracked,” he said. “And they had this crazy idea that they wanted to go to all the 48 lower states and visit a CrossFit box in each state.”

Pauley said he thought it was the “perfect trifecta of ideas” combining working out, friends and family and a good cause. 

The money that Suarez and Malinowski will raise will help go to services to help veterans like Pauley.

“All of our programs and services that we offer to warriors and their family members are absolutely free,” he said. “We never ask a warrior for a penny — ever — and we have a variety of programs and services that we offer.”

Pauley said he is excited to meet the guys from Port Jefferson when they hit the gym by him in a few weeks. 

“It’s going to be a great event,” he said. 

You can follow Jordan and Aidan’s journey on Instagram @Wod.USA or YouTube. To donate to the fundraiser, gofundme.com/f/wod-usa.

Police said a number of young people on bikes physically and verbally harassed members of a Port Jefferson Station gym last Thursday. Photo from Crossfit DHP

Crossfit DHP in Port Jefferson Station was the site of a tense confrontation between the owners of a local gym and a crowd of children and teens on bikes. Though police said nobody was hurt, owners said this could be a learning experience that parents make sure kids show respect.

Suffolk County Police said around 20 young people on bikes were roving around the Port Jeff Station area July 23, and that officers responded to two disturbances outside the gym at 5:30 and then around 6:15 p.m. Police said once they arrived, the groups dispersed with no injuries on either side.

Police said the young people then traveled to Wendy’s on Nesconset Highway and allegedly threw drinks and cursed at patrons. 

Two tickets were issued to two of the juvenile’s parents.

In a statement, gym owners said a group of young men and women on their bikes were seen smoking weed behind the building when they started harassing gym members who were going on their run.

We asked them to be aware of our presence but then they started hitting our members with their bikes,” the statement reads. “At that point we asked them to leave and that we would call the cops to which they said they were proud that the cops were chasing them around all day. With a lot of vulgar language and verbal harassment, they did start to leave as the cops escorted them out.”

On the way out, gym owners said one kid tried to throw a barbell at one of the gym members. The bikers left after police were initially called, but about 10 minutes later came back to harass the gym again. That is when the video was recorded, and owners said the bikers took pipes from their bikes and swung them at member’s heads. 

“To go even further, several of them spit on us, which during a pandemic is unquestionably wrong,” the statement read.

On July 31, police announced they have made two arrests, namely two males, both 15 years old, of Centereach, whom police said were involved in the incident.

One of the teens was charged with 2nd degree reckless endangerment for throwing a barbell at a gym member, and the other was charged with second degree menacing for swinging a bicycle seat at another gym member.

The teens were issued desk appearance tickets and scheduled for arraignment at Suffolk County Family Court in Central Islip Aug. 14.

A viral video posted to the Comsewogue Community Facebook page has since been taken down, but in that video the crowd of young people, most not wearing masks, surrounded the front of the gym’s parking lot where owners and a few gym members confronted them. 

One unidentified young person in the video in a light blue shirt became physical with one unidentified person from the gym, seemingly throwing a punch that doesn’t connect. Young people could be heard swearing and threatening the adults. Another man stepped forward holding a rod of some kind, but in the video he does not appear to use it on the bikers. 

At one point in the video, somebody tried to grab something from a woman at the gym, and a brief struggle ensued but was quickly broken up. 

Owner of the gym Ryder Champouillon and his wife and fellow gym coach Jen posted a video to their gym Facebook page the day after the original video was released, thanking community members for their well wishes.

In the statement, the gym owners thanked Suffolk County Police along with Suffolk Legislator Kara Hahn (D-Setauket) for their genuine response to the incident. 

In the gym’s statement, they said this is not the first episode of harassment in the local community, and many more have posted about such incidents to community Facebook pages. Though thanks to the community, owners said they have already been able to identify many of the people in that video.

Our sole purpose within our facility is to offer the community a single outlet to find healthcare, nutrition and exercise that improves our lives, which improves our community as a whole,” the statement read. “We spoke earlier with members of the local government about moving forward with programs for the community and youth to have an outlet surrounded by positive role models.”

Owners asked anybody who could identify the bikers to send a confidential email to [email protected]

This post has been updated July 31 with information on two arrests.