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Macedonia gym looks to raise awareness and spread hope

by Briana Barker | Reporter Published: October 12, 2016 12:00 AM

Macedonia -- October is domestic violence awareness month and one local business is doing what it can to raise not only awareness but deliver a message of hope to survivors.

The owners of Molon Labe, a crossfit gym at 9100 Valley View Road in Macedonia, have been through a lot and want to let people know there is hope and help available. On Oct. 23 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., Molon Labe is offering special workouts along with other activities including a car show, food truck, face painting and chair massages. All proceeds from the event will be donated to the Summit and Medina County Battered Women's Shelter.

Mark Nolan, co-owner of the facility, says the fundraiser is in honor of his sister Jennifer, who died as the result of domestic violence. Nolan said his sister's mother found her dead at her home shortly after her husband killed her. The man had been packing his bags to leave, but took his own life after hearing police sirens. Nolan said no one in the family knew there had been problems until they found letters she had written while cleaning out the house.

Jennifer was 32 when she died, so in her honor, Nolan created a workout that tells a story of who his sister was. For example, he said there is rope climbing incorporated that reminds him of when they would climb trees as kids, and rep schemes that are tied to the ages of the children Jennifer left behind. When Nolan designed the workout he also included a 400 meter run/walk because his sister ran track in high school and that was her event.

"It also tells the story of the legacy she left behind, not only with her children but her brothers and sisters she left behind," Nolan said. "My sister's death is not in vain anymore. I want to keep her legacy alive and how we do that is through this workout and sharing it with the community."

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Nolan said he knows the event raises awareness because "it never fails that someone within the community will approach us and say 'I need help...' and we'll get them help."

Nolan has been hosting the event since Molon Labe opened in 2012, but actually started raising money for the cause in 2010 with a pump-and-run event in conjunction with the Nordonia Hills Chamber's Duathlon.

Nolan said the workouts include scaling options, so anyone from walk-ins off the street to seasoned athletes can participate.

Ms. Ohio Plus America Donna Hahn, also a domestic violence survivor, will be at the event.

She said one in four women are affected by domestic violence as a survivor she wants to help raise awareness.

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"Come out to the event, reach out and show someone there is hope," Hahn said.

Nolan said it doesn't matter how much you give, that every dollar helps.

"People think 'Oh what will my $5 or $10 do?' but it really does help," Nolan said.

Breast Cancer Awareness

As October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Nolan's wife and Molon Labe co-owner, Eleni Manousogiannaki, is also planning a fundraiser. Manousogiannaki, who has been battling breast cancer for about 18 months, says she wants women to be aware and get mammograms, and not ignore signs.

"In January 2015 I felt a pain in my breast, so I thought I had pulled a muscle in my chest perhaps, so I had gone to my doctor. She didn't think it was anything serious and just as a precaution I went ahead and had a mammogram," Manousogiannaki said. "They didn't find anything, but did an ultrasound, and there was nothing definitive on the ultrasound so they told me to come back in six months. However I just felt like something just wasn't right so about six weeks later ... that day it went from an ultrasound to a biopsy."

She said after waiting for a couple days for results she got a call telling her she had a very aggressive form of breast cancer. Manousogiannaki began treatments right away and though she is still in the treatment process she is considered cancer-free.

"The reason I wanted to share (my story) is because it was frightening, and I thought the worst, but I want to dispel some of the myths and tell women to listen to their bodies," she said.

The gym is offering two weeks free of crossfit for a limited number of guests. Manousogiannaki said those who are surviving breast cancer or battling the disease should ask about a special offer. She is also looking for photographers and salons to donate services toward a "beauty day" that women who have survived or are battling breast cancer can attend.

She said during her illness she got her makeup done and bought a dress and had her own photoshoot and the experience really uplifted her so Manousogiannaki wants to be able to offer that others.

For more information on Molon Labe Crossfit or the event, visit molonlabecrossfit.com or email spartan1@molonlabecrossfit.com.

Briana Barker: 330-541-9432


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