Garage Gym

“Row Madness” raises over $10,000 for ADL Scholarship



By Ron Giofu


Members of the Garage Gym gathered with friends and family at Sprucewood Shores Estate Winery to raise money for a local charity.

“Row Madness” took over the local winery with proceeds going to The Addolorata De Luca Leadership (ADL) Scholarship, founded by Amherstburg resident and recent University of Windsor graduate Cessidia DeBiasio. Tony Smith, who co-owns the Garage Gym with wife Dani, compared the type of event to the famed NCAA basketball tournament held every spring.

“It’s a rowing event, similar to the March Madness event,” he said.

The Garage Gym’s “Row Madness” event featured approximately 80 competitors, he said.

“We’re pitting 17 teams against each other,” said Smith.

Sprucewood Shores Estate Winery donated use of the facility for the day and G.L. Heritage Brewing Co. also partnered with the Garage Gym.

“We have all kinds of donations,” he stated. “It would be impossible to list them off.”

The Garage Gym held “Row Madness” Nov. 25 at Sprucewood Shores Estate Winery to benefit the Addolorata De Luca Leadership (ADL) Scholarship. The event raised over $10,000. Winston McAllister was one of the participants and was encouraged by his wife and teammate Trish during the event.

The Garage Gym regularly supports local charities, Smith continued, and they were impressed by DeBiasio and her charity.

“We chose this one because we are so impressed by the young lady who is behind it,” he said.

Teams were comprised of Garage Gym members and members of their family and friends. Support for the event has been “unreal,” he added, noting a minimum donation of $100 was required in able to participate in the rowing tournament.

The person with the most pledges wins an opportunity to participate in a transformation program at Garage Gym.

DeBiasio told the crowd that “each and every one of you is making a difference” in helping a student become a contributor to the community. Every single dollar raised goes to the scholarship, named in honour of her grandmother, she added.

“I’m truly grateful,” said DeBiasio. “It means a lot.”

DeBiasio said she has been working on the ADL Scholarship for about three years and has raised $25,000. Once $40,000 is raised, two scholarships can be awarded, but she would be happy to offer even more.

For more information on the scholarship itself, visit The public can keep up on the ADL Scholarship on Facebook @theadlscholarship and Instagram @theadlscholarship.

“Row Madness” sees Garage Gym team with local charity



By Ron Giofu


The Garage Gym is hosting its “Row Madness” event again this year and a scholarship started by a local woman will be the beneficiary.

The Addolorata De Luca Leadership (ADL) Scholarship was recently selected by The Garage Gym as the charity of choice Nov. 25 “Row Madness” fundraising event. The fundraiser will be held at Sprucewood Shores Estate Winery from 12-6 p.m. this Sunday with the winery serving its product with G.L. Heritage Brewing Co. also scheduled to be on hand pouring their craft beer.

There will be music, drinks and The License to Sear food truck will be available to anyone who wants to come and support the competitors and the charity.

Cessidia DeBiasio, founder of the ADL Scholarship, said the ownership at the Garage Gym is very supportive of the community and believe in giving back. She said people can take part in groups or individually or they can just come out to support the cause and cheer the rowers on.

“All the money is directed to the scholarship,” she said. “It’s a great way to increase community awareness, comradery and teamwork.”

Individuals and teams will be completing 42,195m in a rowing marathon style. Participants are asked to each raise $100 in pledges. Top individual fundraisers and team fundraisers (teams consist of five individuals) will receive prizes. It will consist of members from The Garage Gym, located in Amherstburg and Kingsville, as well as community members.

DeBiasio stated the event is open to all skill levels, ages and strengths. She noted that 100 per cent of donations given to the ADL Scholarship are used to provide scholarships to deserving first or second generation Canadian student leaders at The University of Windsor.

“These students are giving back to our Windsor-Essex community and the University of Windsor,” she said.

DeBiasio is hopeful that this year’s “Row Madness” is as successful as last year’s event, as this is her first year as the charity of choice. Last year’s fundraising event, held by Garage Gym, hosted over 300 Garage Gym clients and community members and received “significant media attention,” she said. For more information on the

Event, please visit: or

Companies and individuals can also sponsor the event, with DeBiasio calling it “a great marketing tool” for them. She said when money is donated to a smaller charity like the ADL Scholarship, it has a great impact.

“The fact that (Garage Gym co-owner Tony Smith) is supporting a small, grassroots charity is amazing because it shows what type of leader he is,” said DeBiasio, who noted she was “over the moon” when she learned the ADL Scholarship was chosen. “It’s nice to see he really does help everyone.”

DeBiasio said she has been working on the ADL Scholarship for about three years and has raised $25,000, good for one scholarship thus far. She is hopeful of reaching at least $40,000 so that two scholarships can be awarded, but would be even happier to offer even more.

“The more money we raise, the more scholarships we can give out and the more students we can help,” she said.

To register a team, register as an individual, to get pledge sheets, or to get more information on joining another team, please e-mail For more information or to learn about sponsorship opportunities, e-mail or

For more information on the scholarship itself, visit The public can keep up on the ADL Scholarship on Facebook @theadlscholarship and Instagram @theadlscholarship.



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.


“Lift for Lawson” raises over $40,000


By Jonathan Martin


It looks like Lawson White will get his lift.

An estimated 750 people packed shoulder-to-shoulder in G. L. Heritage Brewing Co. throughout Friday night to raise money for the three-year-old.  His parents, Ryan and Cadi White, walked away with more than $40,000 in their pockets.

Lawson was born with neonatal alloimmune thrombocytopenia, which prevented his blood from clotting and resulted in a brain hemorrhage. He has since developed cerebral palsy and is completely blind.

As Lawson got older, he got heavier and being carried up and down the stairs by hand got harder.  His parents decided it was time to install a lift in their home.  The Garage Gym, Amherstburg Chevrolet, Integrity Tool and Mold, Team D’Alimonte Royal LePage and G. L. Heritage Brewing Company joined forces to raise funds for the equipment’s construction.

Marisa Willms tries to beat the SkiErg world record of 2,000m in seven minutes and 11 seconds at G. L. Heritage Brewing Co. last Friday. Willms, who held the previous record, ended up four seconds short.

A wrench was thrown into the plan, though, when the contractor found black mould in the walls of the Whites’ house.

“When I bought the house, I looked in the attic, I looked in the basement and everything was fine,” Ryan said.  “We never would have noticed this if we hadn’t (started building) this elevator.”

Ryan said the house’s previous owners put vinyl siding over aluminum siding.  Water sneaks in behind the soffit, runs between the two sidings and leaks into the house through the sidings’ anchor holes.

The Whites said they’ve cordoned off the 30-foot construction area with plastic sheets and have had air samples taken of the site.   They said they have a specialist coming in later this week to look at thermal images of the rest of the house, in case the mould isn’t isolated to that area.

Nonetheless, they said Lawson’s lift should be installed this week.  The Whites said they had been placed on a six-month waiting list when they first scheduled the installation and would likely have to wait another six months if they were to postpone.

The mould has been cleaned up in the lift’s construction area, so they plan to move forward with the project.

They said they are “extremely grateful” to have been given the funds needed to make it happen.

Jennifer Grondin is one of the co-owners of G. L. Heritage Brewing Co., where Friday’s fundraiser was held.

“It is outstanding and amazing, the way this community has come together,” she said tearfully.

Ryan White speaks beside his wife, Cadi, at the Lift for Lawson fund raiser, held at G. L. Heritage Brewing Co. in Amherstburg on Friday, April 6, 2018. The event raised more than $40,000 for the Whites to build an elevator for their son, Lawson.

“The support and the turnout had been incredible.”

Tony Smith is one of the owners of Garage Gym.  He said Ryan and Cadi were two of his first customers and have become his personal friends.

“When you call your community to action and you get hundreds of people showing up to let (Cadi and Ryan) know how much we care about them, that’s something entirely outside of fund-raising,” he said.

Cadi burst into tears when the fund raiser’s numbers were announced.  Ryan stood, motionless, looking dazed, until his wife grabbed his shirt.

“The number of people who have offered to help us is stunning,” he said.  “Somebody hooked up air filters in our house for free to be sure we’re breathing clean air, we had somebody contact us with an offer to do our air sampling for free, we’ve been contacted by construction companies and we’ve had friends reach out to us with offers to help. It’s all so overwhelming.”

“Even just the people who sent us a ‘thinking of you’ note,” Cadi said, her voice still shaky.  “Even that level of generosity is so strength-giving.”

Despite everything, the couple said Lawson, the “light of (their) lives,” is a lucky boy, and they feel lucky too.


Local athletes push themselves to new limits as part of “Lift for Lawson”

By Jonathan Martin


As three-year-old Lawson White struggles with his physicality, local athletes have come together to push their own bodies to their limits.

Friday’s Lift for Lawson fund raiser saw members of the local Garage Gym participate in tests of strength and endurance.  For every pound raised and meter rowed, local businesses donated a dollar toward the installation of a lift in the Whites’ home.  The lift will allow Lawson, who is paralyzed, to travel up and down the stairs without the need to be carried.

Among Friday’s attendants was Windsor’s Kelly Branton, an internationally-renowned power lifter, the first Canadian to squat 900 pounds and the first Canadian to bench 600 pounds.  Branton spotted competitors during their workouts and “helped get the most out of them,” according to Garage Gym co-owner Tony Smith.

Tony Smith performs a deadlift at G. L. Heritage Brewing Company in Amherstburg on Friday, April 6, 2018. For every pound lifted, local businesses donated a dollar to the White family in support of their son, Lawson.

Another attendant of note was Marisa Willms, who currently holds seven world records on the SkiErg, an indoor machine which simulates Nordic skiing.  Friday, she tried to reclaim her world record for the 2,000m, which was snatched away by Australian skier Kate Hilliard.  Willm’s target was seven minutes and 11 seconds.  She came in four seconds short, but did reach a new personal record.

In fact, all the competitors reached personal records, according the Garage Gym.  They include Corey Vultaggio and Tony Smith, who competed in a deadlift competition, and Jeremy D’Alimonte and Winston Woolcock, who competed in a three-minute rowing competition.

Tony Smith said he is proud his gym was able to help out its members and that, really, it feels like more of a family.