Gym owner Sean Thomson credits his longtime friend and fellow North Catholic graduate, John Adamski, with coming up with a novel fundraising idea.
Adamski, of Bridesburg, lost his mother-in-law, Joann Brunkel, in August 2021 to breast cancer.
Thomson owns No Limit Gym, 3154 Willits Road. His sister-in-law, Natalie Tigyer, is battling breast cancer.
Natalie, of Ohio, was recently diagnosed with an aggressive form of invasive ductal carcinoma of her left breast. She was almost immediately denied by her insurance company for a few of her diagnostic tests recommended by her oncologist. She chose to pay out of pocket. Shortly after meeting her deductible, she was made aware she will be responsible for 30 percent of all medical tests, procedures, chemotherapy, hormone therapy and any complications that may arise. A payment plan option has been made available to her.
Adamski and Thomson, along with gym member John McBride, agreed to run up to 100 miles in a 24-hour period. Matt McGowan, another gym member, was soon on board, too, for that ambitious running goal. Add in gym members, relatives of Thomson and others who pledged a minimum of $50 to run 1 mile or more. Sponsors made donations through the nonprofit Legacy of Hope.
“Our goal is $30,000,” McBride said.
Funds are still being tabulated, but the latest count has donations at $26,016.02.
“It went way better than I thought,” Thomson said.
This is the second time No Limit Gym had a long-distance run to raise money for charity. A decade ago, it was a run to Wildwood, New Jersey to raise money for autism awareness.
The latest fundraiser started Saturday at 5 a.m. at the gym. Thomson, Adamski, McBride and McGowan set out on a 10-mile route that took them to State Road, Grant Avenue, the Northeast Philadelphia Airport and Academy Road, passing by the Flyers Skate Zone and the 8th Police District on their way back to the gym.
Meanwhile, a crowd gathered at the gym. Money was raised through raffles and a cornhole tournament. There was live music, and a TV was brought in for guests to watch the Phillies win the wild card series. Tina Thomson, Sean’s wife and Natalie’s sister, was among those on hand supporting the runners.
“We had a lot of great support,” Adamski said.
The runners trained for months for the big day.
“It’s something we wanted to do for a good cause,” said McGowan, a Bristol resident and assistant coach in charge of strength and conditioning for the Archbishop Carroll boys basketball team. “Everybody came together.”
Early on, the weather was nice and the 8th district helped out by blocking some busy intersections.
The original plan was to try to run that 10-mile route 10 times.
Ultimately, though, due to darkness, hills and safety, the route was changed to a 1-mile run up Exeter Road to Convent Avenue and back to Willits. Either running that route 10 times or the original 10-mile route once, and then doing it again and again, was not easy.
In the end, at the 5 a.m. Sunday finish line, Thomson ran 93 miles. McBride completed 70. Adamski and McGowan finished with 64 apiece. A number of other runners totaled various distances.
“It was a different, interesting way, a gym community fundraiser,” said McBride, of Torresdale.
Thomson, who lives in Palmyra, New Jersey, said the battles faced by cancer patients pushed him and the other runners along the way.
“There was a motivation behind it,” he said.
Adamski described the gym as a family, and was happy the event was a success in memory of his mother-in-law and in support of Natalie and other cancer patients.
“The goal was to make a lot of impact and raise money,” he said. “We all felt good about it. All in all, it turned out to be a pretty great day.” ••
To donate, visit https://www.thenolimitgym.net/ and click the 100 for Natalie tab.