Annual lift-a-thon benefits BLHS powerlifting team, reunites alumni
The sounds of metal clinking, heavy weights being dropped and a ringing bell could only mean one thing: the annual Basehor-Linwood High School Lift-A-Thon fundraiser.
More than 200 students and alumni crowded the strength and conditioning building in an effort to raise money to support the maintenance of the weight room and the BLHS powerlifting team. Music and encouraging words accompanied the grunts and groans of the 148 lifters who were attempting to beat personal records in squat, bench or hang clean on Monday afternoon. Whenever a record was broken, the student would ring a bell positioned in the center of the room to signify the accomplishment.
The funds raised from the annual event go toward the purchasing of new equipment for the Health and Wellness Center and the costs incurred during powerlifting meets. Maecy Cooper said the fundraisers benefits are obvious, especially when the team travels. “I think it’s (the fundraiser) is a good idea because it helps get new equipment,” Cooper said. “And you can tell our facility is a lot better than other schools.”
The 5-foot-4 senior has been a member of the powerlifting team for two years. It’s the “intensity and competition” that enthralls her, she said.
But it wasn’t all shaky arms and sweaty, red faces. Senior Josh Barnes said he thoroughly enjoys not only the fundraiser but lifting in general.
“I’m having a great time,” Barnes said halfway through the Lift-A-Thon. “I always have fun doing this (weight lifting).”
Family members who served as sponsors to the students participating in the event, like Cindy Bartko, took pictures or videos during lifts. Bartko attended the fundraiser to watch her son, Andrew, lift for the first time.
“This is his first year on the team and I’ve never seen him do this before,” Bartko said of her sophomore son. “I think it’s wonderful and really exciting.”
The Bartko’s said they raised $150 for the event.
“It helps out the kids to get them more equipment and provides them in whatever ways they need it,” she said. “So I’m all for it.”
Helping to judge and assist with the Lift-A-Thon were 44 graduates of BLHS. Rachel Van Fleet found herself in the weight room for the first time since graduating last spring.
“I just always loved lifting,” said Van Fleet, a former member of the power lifting team. “And I like the event because it brings in a lot of revenue.”
Around 300 to 350 students use the weight room for strength and conditioning or classes on any given day, powerlifting and strength and conditioning coach Ross Schwisow said. Last year’s event raised around $4,000, and a squat rack and weights costs about the same, Schwisow said. The weight room has 11 such racks. Monday afternoon also served a dual purpose in that the lifters’ performances would determine their position on the powerlifting team for the upcoming season.
“It’s kind of like a tryout for the team,” Schwisow said. “I need to see where the kids are, and the kids who perform the best will get placed on varsity.”
The powerlifting season starts next month and carries through March. The Basehor-Linwood girls have won five consecutive state titles and the boys have won three. The team’s first meet is Jan. 12 at McLouth.
“This (fundraiser) is so vital to what we are doing,” Schwisow said. “It helps motivate them, too, because it all goes back to the program.”