As we were scrolling through Facebook not long ago, this photograph of 13-year-old Dillion Chapman sitting in his wheelchair with Ripstix made us STOP. His smile is infectious; his spirit, palpable. The post came from UK POUND Pro Gina Fry after a fundraising day that she organized to benefit Dillon, her cousin’s son.
“I had a birthday party in February, and Dillon came,” said Gina. “It was two nights before his surgery was due to take place, so the whole family (a large Irish family) had a big leg send off. It was a very emotional evening in that respect, and I had the idea to forge a group of fitness professionals in my area to help to raise funds, but more importantly, to raise awareness [for Dillon].” And that, she did!
Dillon was diagnosed as an infant with Neurofibromatosis Type 1, a progressive and incurable condition where tumors grow from nerve endings. Dillon has undergone ten operations including having his tumorous leg shortened twice, and finally in February this year, having it amputated completely.
In May, just after his surgery, Gina hosted a benefit at her studio, BODYbasics in Frome, England, where a team of instructors spent a day delivering classes of all types and the public joined in to try out new sessions they’d never done before.
According to Gina, the favorite among these was POUND! “Dillon loved the energy and the music. He was able to sit in his wheelchair and join in with the class! I was very honored and humbled [to be able to organize this day]. It’s astounding what that young lad has been through and yet he is always so positive and strong. It puts a different perspective on life being with him and makes you appreciate what you have.”
Gina first discovered POUND in 2014 at a fitness weekend in the UK. She got certified at Project Fit that November in Newcastle, England. Immediately falling in love with the program, Gina started classes in January 2015 and has since added another instructor form her studio to the POUND Pro Team!
“POUND is totally different to anything else we offer at BODYbasics,” said Gina. “It’s fun and exhilarating but still hard work. It produces great results for those who attend and is a brilliant stress-reliever. Just watching people release all that energy and walk out the door in a dripping sweaty mess with an enormous smile on their face is what my job is all about.”
Dillon is coping very well with his new situation and is gradually getting used to life with a prosthetic leg. He still has to use a wheelchair and he is adjusting but is now able to see a future where he can join in with his friends and do things that other 13 year old boys can do. His mom has returned to POUND with Gina. They hope to get Dillon back in the gym to continue the good work they started.