Dani Smith

Local gym members rally to support area fighter



By Ron Giofu


Members of the Garage Gym gathered at a local tavern to support one of their own Saturday afternoon.

Garage Gym members got together at the Beacon Ale House to watch Randa Markos compete in a UFC women’s strawweight division fight against Nina Ansaroff. Markos lives in Windsor but trains out of the Garage Gym in Amherstburg with co-owner Tony Smith.

Dani Smith said that Tony travelled with Markos to Calgary where Saturday’s fight took place.

Garage Gym members gathered at the Beacon Ale House July 28 to watch fellow gym member and UFC fighter Randa Markos compete.

“He’s part of her team when she gets a fight,” Dani explained.

Markos lost a unanimous decision to Ansaroff at the Scotiabank Saddledome to drop to 8-6 in mixed martial arts fighting and 4-5 in UFC. The scores after the three-round fight were 29-28, 29-28 and 29-28 in favour of Ansaroff.

Dani said that Markos is at the Garage Gym five times per week and that it is a tradition that fellow gym members gather to watch her fight.

The Beacon Ale House shows the UFC fights and the Garage Gym members gather to watch the fight so they can cheer Markos on.


G.L. Heritage teams up with Garage Gym to raise over $42,000 rowing against cancer


By Jolene Perron


The event only took one month to plan, but its affects on the local community will last much, much longer.

“’F*** Cancer, let’s do something, something big’ was sent to Garage Gym owner Tony Smith.

Tony responded with simply OK.

“I knew right there it would be big,” explained co-owner of G.L. Heritage, Greg Grondin. “After our grand opening my father, the G of G&L, received the news that he had Stage 4 lung cancer. This is the reason for the text I sent. Tony and Dani (owners of The Garage Gym), having had cancer affect their lives, also welcomed it with open arms. I didn’t realize that with Tony and Dani comes a group of amazing generous people that came to the table.”

The Windsor-Essex Cancer Centre Foundation accepted a cheque for over $42,000 from Garage Gym and G.L Heritage Brewing Co. last Tuesday. From left: Foundation chair Stephen Roberts, Garage Gym trainer Marisa Willms, Garage Gym owners Dani and Tony Smith, G.L. Heritage Brewing Co. co-owner Greg Grondin and foundation executive director Houida Kassem.

That group, Grondin explained, included roughly 140 rowers, who have banded together to row a total of 42,195 metres in a relay race. G.L. Heritage and The Garage Gym were joined by Integrity Tool and Mold and Morton Industrial Services to put on the event.

The cheque presentation took place last Tuesday and the Windsor Cancer Centre Foundation received $42,087.25.

“We had so many raffle prizes that we had to group them together,” said Tony.

Houida Kassem, executive director at the Windsor Cancer Centre Foundation, said it was the largest donation for the foundation’s “Grow On” campaign.

“I think it’s great,” she said at the cheque presentation, telling representatives from Garage Gym and the G.L. Heritage Brewery that “you did a fantastic job.”

“I think everyone’s been touched by cancer,” said Garage Gym co-owner Dani Smith. “I think that’s why it’s been successful.”

“The call to action stirred memories of my mother’s bald head as she battled through chemo therapy,” explained administrative assistant for The Garage Gym, Kyle Bezaire. “It reminded me of  the heartache I witnessed watching Dani’s mother, Lynda, undergoing radiation treatment that prevented her from holding our two young boys when she needed nothing more than their tiny hugs. It also took me back to just a few months before picturing the look of despair in our staff member Steph’s eyes when she found out that her father, Bill’s, current bout with the disease had taken a bad turn. Mostly, it made me sad, angry, and hungry for a fight; all emotions I pride myself in transferring to positive outlets.”

Rowers teamed up in a rowing relay race Nov. 18 at G.L. Heritage, which raised $40,000 for the Windsor Cancer Centre Foundation.

Bezaire explained that the team banded together to organize an event focusing on smiles, support, love, perseverance, fitness, and beer, which he said are qualities that the loved ones they are battling for display on a daily basis.

All of the proceeds raised are going to the Windsor Cancer Centre Foundation, which ensure the funds will help their families, their friends families, and their neighbours all locally.

While the marathon itself isn’t new to The Garage Gym, who held something similar in 2015, they explained they needed something to help make it into an event and give it some foundation, rather than just having a rowing marathon.

“I think this is a fantastic cause,” explained Bezaire. “In high school, a good friend of mine was diagnosed with cancer which caused him to miss nearly our entire grade 11 year. There was a group of about 20 of us who shaved out heads in solidarity with him. At the time there wasn’t much that I thought I could do so I did whatever I could, basically meaning shave my head and say some prayers on his behalf. I feel privileged to be a part of this event and to be able to be working along side local business owners who want to do some good in their community. I think it gives a purpose beyond sustainability to the businesses and employees, such as myself. We get to see a real impact we can have in our community too.”


Garage Gym makes donation to mission after “Check in for Charity” event



By Jolene Perron


For everyone who attended a class at the Garage Gym during the month of October and who checked in on Facebook, money was donated to the Amherstburg Food and Fellowship Mission.

“We were able to raise $142.25 with the check ins,” explained Tony Smith, co-owner of The Garage Gym with his wife Dani. “We were so proud of the effort put in by our membership that we decided to double the donation to $0.50 per check-in. We also had an anonymous $20 donation raising our total to $304.50”

A total of 569 people checked in during the course of the event. Smith said the event was started to raise money for local charities so that they funds stay in that town. They chose the Mission because of “all the great services they offer.”

Winston McAllister, whose father Tim is the president of the Amherstburg Food and Fellowship Mission, was on hand last week to receive the check. He is also a member of The Garage Gym.

Winston McAllister accepts a cheque on behalf of the Amherstburg Food and Fellowship Mission from Garage Gym co-owner Dani Smith. The local gym raised over $300 during a recent charity initiative.

“The mission appreciates any help from the community because everything they do is 100 per cent charity,” explained McAllister. “Nobody is paid, everyone is volunteer and all the money goes back to helping the community. Any time someone makes a gesture to help out, and help their community, the mission welcomes it with open arms. When they approached me to ask, I thought it was awesome.”

Smith explained the independently owned strength and conditioning facility provides small group training, focusing on improving member’s health both physically and mentally. They aim to push their clients beyond what they believe to be their limits, which “teaches them to better deal with the stress and obstacles life will throw at them.” Smith is an 18-year veteran of the Windsor Police Service, having spent 10 years on the SWAT team. His wife Dani worked 14 years as a police officer in Windsor as well.

“It was really nice and uplifting knowing that every time you were here, money was going towards a good cause helping the community,” said McAllister. “There is just a bunch of great people here working towards a great cause. It almost mirrors the slogan for the mission, people helping people. It’s as simple as that, and everyone here just chipped into that mission’s statement.”