Tony Smith

“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.

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.


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.

Local businesses coming together to hold the “Lift for Lawson”


By Ron Giofu


A trio of local businesses are teaming up to help three-year-old Lawson White and his parents Ryan and Cadi.

Lawson was born with a condition known as neo-natal alloimmune thrombocytopenia, which caused his blood not to clot and left him with a grade four brain bleed after his birth. He has since undergone two brain surgeries, had to use a feeding tube at one point and finally came home after four months.

However, there has since been complications and hospital stays with the bleed causing developmental delays, cerebral palsy, epilepsy and complete blindness. Ryan says Lawson has been struggling as of late with vomiting and seizures.

“He’s been very sick the last six months,” he said. “Doctors don’t know what’s going on.”

Ryan and Cadi want to put in a lift for their home as Lawson is getting older and heavier and the family could use help getting Lawson to his bedroom and the bathroom.

To help the White family, the Garage Gym, Team D’Alimonte from Royal LePage Binder Real Estate and G.L. Heritage Brewing Co. are teaming up for the “Lift for Lawson” fundraiser April 6.

“They are going through tough times with Lawson and we’re trying to help with their home renovations and make life a little bit easier,” said Garage Gym co-owner Tony Smith.

Garage Gym, G.L. Heritage Brewing Co. and Team D’Alimonte real estate are teaming for the “Lift for Lawson” fundraiser April 6. From left: Winston McAllister, Marisa Willms, Corey Vultaggio, Greg Grondin, Tony Smith, Lawson, Cadi and Ryan White and Jeremy D’Alimonte.

The Friday night event will feature a three-minute rowing race between Lawson’s uncle and Ryan’s friend Jeremy D’Alimonte and Winston McAllister, deadlift and bench press competitions between Smith and Corey Vultaggio.

The third component of the event will see Garage Gym trainer and former 2000m SkiErg world record holder Marisa Willms racing in an attempt to get her world record back. The record was recently broken. SkiErg is a workout that uses a exercise machine that replicates the sport of Nordic skiing.

Smith said that G.L. Heritage Brewing Co., Team D’Alimonte and the Garage Gym will donate $1 for every meter rowed and pound lifted by the winners. Donations will also be accepted at the door that night. People will be asked to donate a minimum of $1 to enter G.L. Heritage Brewing Co. that night though additional donations are welcome.

Ryan and Cadi were two of the first members of the Garage Gym and are thankful for the support they have been receiving.

“We didn’t expect this, for sure,” said Ryan. “All of these guys are great guys. I couldn’t ask for better people in my life. The support we’ve experienced since (Lawson) has been born has been incredible.”

“We are very grateful,” Cadi added.

On April 6, doors open at 6 p.m. and the event is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m.

G.L. Heritage Brewing Co. is located at 8728 Howard Ave. If people wish to donate in advance, they can do so at Garage Gym, located at the corner of Sandwich St. S. and Richmond St., or through Team D’Alimonte or the G.L. Heritage Brewing Co.

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.”