So, I wanted to share a little bit about a family that has impacted Daniel’s and my life, and if you know them, they’ve most likely impacted your life as well. 

I met the Garrens about a year and a half ago at CrossFit Electric City. We went to the same church, but I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to really get to know them if it weren’t for us working out together. CrossFit does that to you. It’s fun and all, but I think we can all admit that there’s a little bit of suffering that takes place (in the best kind of way), and when you “suffer” together, you form a bond with the people around you. It’s hard to explain in typed out words to you on the internet, but believe me, it’s a pretty cool feeling, and makes working out alone look terrible. Over the past year and a half, I’ve been really encouraged by the Garrens for multiple reasons. They are incredibly selfless people. They work really hard in the gym, and they’ve seen their life transformed because of that. And last but not least, they are always everyone else’s biggest cheerleaders. 

Terri is great. She’s one of the friendliest people you’ll ever meet. She shows up to the gym every single day, and she works hard. She’s a great mom, and I’ve seen that even more clearly over the past month as she raves about her oldest son, Tanner, and how proud she is of him for serving our country.

Mike has one of the biggest hearts out of anyone I know. Daniel thinks the world of him, too. They’re a part of the same group of guys from CFEC that meet together for breakfast every Friday morning. Daniel says that Mike has a lot of really smart things to say about life, and I believe it. This past Memorial Day weekend, about 100 people met at CFEC to do the traditional hero WOD, “MURPH” – in memory of Lieutenant Michael Murphy (just google Lone Survivor). Anyway, I learned this year how brutal that workout is with a 20 lb vest. I went out for my last mile run, and I passed Mike on the way back. We had about 400 meters left. He picked up the pace and (probably saw that I was dying) and said that we were going to finish together, and he was going to stay with me, cheer me on, and I was going to stay with him. He sped up AND talked to me the entire time. It was all I could do to keep up with him. I don’t think I said a word to him. In fact, I don’t remember because I was dying. But I do know that if it weren’t for him, I wouldn’t have finished as strong. I’ll never forget that.

Kaileigh is eight years old (I think) and she is one of the most adorable AND most athletic kids I’ve ever met. She’s a part of our KidFit program, and she gives the boys a run for their money working out alongside them. She’s really sweet, and you can’t help but fall in love with her. One of my favorite things about Kaileigh is that she didn’t know my name for the longest time, so she just called me “Dan’s wife.”

Kaelyn is Tanner’s girlfriend, so she’s basically a part of the Garren family. She’s really sweet and started doing CrossFit awhile ago through our Strength and Conditioning program for students. But after graduating, she started coming to either the noon class or one of the afternoon classes with the Garren’s. She’s there almost every single day.

But the focus of this blog is about my friend, Tanner.  Tanner is 20 years old. He enlisted in the US Army this past March (2016). When he enlisted, he realized that he had been missing out on all the fun his family and his girlfriend Kaelyn had been having at CFEC. He also realized that one of the best ways to get himself mentally and physically prepared for Basic Training and to serve our country would be to do CrossFit, so he joined the CFEC family this past March. I remember watching Tanner do one of his first workouts – 16.5 in the open. If you remember that one, you’re probably like OH LORD, poor guy. But I watched Tanner do every single burpee and thruster in that workout. He didn’t officially do the open that year, but our gym did the workouts in class (that way everyone got their fair share of the Open). Since that day in March, Tanner showed up every single day the gym was open. He got fitter. He probably grew up a little bit. And he got to workout with his family before leaving to begin a new chapter of his life. A little over a month ago, Tanner left for Ft. Benning, in GA to begin Basic Training.The Garrens threw him a going away party (with the BEST BBQ!!), and they left the next day to drop him off. 

He recently did a competition at Ft. Benning (and repped CFEC well) by WINNING. The competition consisted of doing 50 burpees and 5 rope climbs the fastest out of all the guys in his platoon. You don’t have to be smart to know that CrossFit played a part in that. We do tons of burpees, and some rope climbs here and there, and I promise Tanner had his fair share in our gym before he left for Basic Training.

Winning that competition earned him a 30 minute phone call home. Terri was pretty pumped about that – because she got to talk to him, but also because he kicked butt and repped his family, the great city of Anderson, SC, and CFEC well. Colin worked with Tanner on rope climbs, and obviously it paid off. 

Since then, Tanner also got the fastest time in the obstacle course in his platoon. 

Thank you, Tanner, for serving our country – and for working hard while doing it. I can’t imagine that there are too many higher honors in life than to serve THE USA. I can’t say that I’ve experienced that first hand, but I think you’re pretty brave and cool, and I’m thankful for the freedom I have every single day because of people like you. I hope your reese pieces are waiting on you next month when you get to see your family. You deserve alllllll of ’em. 

And thanks to the Garren’s for showing us all what it means to win at life. My life wouldn’t be the same without y’all.