Grace Under Fire

Things were really going great in the early fall. Our box was in full swing, and  a community was being forged. The 10/13 ANiMAL Night Out was a lot of fun. Blurry, yet fun! Then, Barbells For Boobs. For our first fundraising event, we raised $3,608.00. We had an amazing turnout and we all raised money and worked out for a great cause. Everything was heading in the right direction.

Then I started hearing about this chick Sandy. I must admit, I didn’t think she was bad as everyone was making her out to be. Yet that Monday night, when I took a drive down Valley Brook Avenue, I saw the river had already made its way up to Park Avenue, where our box is, my heart fell to my stomach. I could only imagine what we would come back to see that next day.

I didn’t sleep much that night. I remember thinking about all the possibilities. We all worked so hard to create … Something. What would happen now? When we got to the box the next morning, I opened the door and the lights were out. I heard the sound of water dripping and my first step in I can hear the splash from underneath my feet. All I saw on the ground in front of me was my sneaker, which the night before was in a cabinet in the office. How did it end up there?

Well, Sandy kicked our ass. More than 2.5 feet of water poured into the box during the Passaic River’s surge. The power of water is hard to imagine. But this may put it in perspective. The turf, which was glued down on the floor, was partially ripped-up and displaced. I found a full case of water on the opposite side of the box. Our landlords steel garage door was ripped out of its framing.


Sandy was one strong chick.

When adversity hits, you have two options: 1. Crawl up in a ball, or 2. stand-up and kick its ass. We’re ANiMAL’s. We chose to stand-up.

Within hours, there were friends, family and our members down at the box ripping out the turf. They didn’t stop. The next couple of weeks were filled with much of the same. Moving equipment, cleaning, painting, REBUiLDiNG. As humbling as the experience was, I saw something much greater: we had our community. We had built a family. Our members had our back and they looked out for each other, too.

Hurricane Sandy was a devastating storm for millions of people in one way or another. In some cases, this catastrophe took valuables, homes and even lives. But that storm did something for us. It brought an already tight-knit group closer together. Sure, it was challenging to not have our home to train in. Sure, there were days when we might not have wanted  do our WODs outside in the cold and dark. Yet, we came together as a community and we did our part. We stuck together even though we didn’t have to. We played the hand we were dealt and walked away with the chips. Nothing worthwhile comes easy. The last four weeks definitely wasn’t easy, but it was an opportunity to learn and grow.

It’s been a month since that storm caused its havoc. Yet, its effects will stay with us for a long time.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to all those who were effected by Hurricane Sandy. We would also like to show our appreciation to all of our family, friends, and members who stuck with us when times got tough. Your help and support was amazing and we could not have done this without you. I am proud to be an ANiMAL. You should be as well.