BLAKELY -- For the seventh year, a gym owner and personal trainer in Lackawanna County is turning his passion for fitness into a fundraiser benefiting a nonprofit in the area.
Mike Marcinek is the owner of NEPA Fit Club, a personal coaching fitness facility in Blakely. He helps organize a fundraiser called Fitstock for a Cause, now in its seventh year.
Fitstock is a weekend-long event featuring an outdoor workout, basket raffles, and more.
"Last year, we raised just about $15,000 over the weekend. If we can surpass that this year that would be awesome," Marcinek said. "Whether you're a beginner or very experienced, everybody comes in and all the money goes back to local charity."
That charity is the United Cerebral Palsy of NEPA. Executive Director Sarah Drob remembers the phone call from Mike out of the blue seven years ago that started it all.
"Talked to us, said, 'We'd like to do this. Would you be interested in being the beneficiary?' No problem! We'll be there! We've grown with them. They are a tremendous group of people," said Drob.
UCP of NEPA helps people with all kinds of disabilities. Drob says money from Fitstock goes specifically toward their early intervention programs, which include Lekotek. That's a Swedish term that means "play library," and it's meant to help children learn skills the way they learn best, with toys.
Drob points out her organization is a private nonprofit and it relies heavily on donations.
"Some of our programs don't receive the amount of money needed to continue them," said Drob.
Marcinek has a special connection to UCP of NEPA. His brother was born with cerebral palsy and told he'd need assisted living for the rest of his life. He's now a college graduate and an inspiration to his whole family.
"He has the heart of a champion. To think the adversity that he faces every day, whenever you have a little struggle in your life, he's pretty inspirational. To use him as a backdrop to improve the rest of the community goes to show you it's a worthy cause people should give to," said Marcinek.
Fitstock's main event is Saturday at noon at Memorial Field in Blakely. It's an outdoor workout set to live music, rain or shine. Anyone is welcome to attend.