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It is very cold in Pittsfield, VT at 5:00 a.m.
I woke up to the sound of light chimes in my left ear. It seemed like a dream at first. Then I realized it was just my phone wedged under my skull. Those alarm chimes did their job, it was just 10 minutes late.
CTP was already off the top bunk with one leg through his lulu sweatpants. “Are you gonna get up or stay in?” I had been in that spot before, and had already asked myself the same question a time or two. “Yep!,” I answered, popping off the lower bunk without hesitation.
The only trouble was the thick head fog that made tying my shoes quite the chore. Three hours of sleep just isn’t enough, especially not right before a brisk fall mountain climb in total morning darkness.
Five hours prior we were up late in the Lodge lobby, huddled next to the tall fire in serious work mode. This was a Tuesday night out on the road, which means CTP and I were up late trying to wrap Barbell Shrugged and get it uploaded on time. We also didn’t want our chat to end. The next day we were all headed back down to Albany International, and in Mike’s case, on our separate ways. It’s a temporary thing, but saying goodbye to your brothers doesn’t get any easier with time.
It’s easy to whine and moan over your warm bed, but not when that text from Joe De Sena comes through. “Where you guys at?” With that you get your ass into your pants and out the front Lodge door.
We shivered and hurried over to Joe’s mountain. We parked, then jogged quickly up to the foot of the Spartan stairway, entering only after paying our respects to the Indian Goddess that guards those stairs.
The climb is just what you want, at least in the end. Trust me. At first it’s tough, but you can keep a quick pace thanks to fresh legs and large steps. Of course it gets much harder half-way up the mountain. That’s where the gasping starts. Keep pushing through.
If you keep a respectable pace your legs will be jelly by the time you reach the top cabin. It’s worth it. Right there at the top, if you time it right, you can see the dawn fog pass down through Spartan valley like a white ocean. It’s an extraordinary site
At the summit, I could hear Joe shouting out to his young kids. They make a habit of sprinting up and down this mountain. For them, it’s just that thing you do to cool down after a tough morning Kung Fu session. “Hey! You guys got exactly 3 seconds to get out of there. One…Two…Good.”
I noticed our new friend Tony taking in the view. He hardly looked bothered by the climb, which is just what I expected given his story. He was just chatting away, “Look at that view. There’s nothing quite like the early morning, is there?”
I shuffled to the very top to meet Tony and ask him the only thing on my mind. “What do you tell the voice in your head when it gets to blabbering on about what reward you deserve, and what you can and can’t do?”
His response is a perfect summary statement. With a raised his hand, he made a fist and replied, “I just tell it to shut up…I don’t have that inner conversation. I don’t need anyone telling me that I’m doing well going up the hill, you know? I don’t need to celebrate it. It’s done. The only thing you think of at the top of a hill is…Next hill…Isn’t it?”
We interviewed Tony the night before in a tiny apartment that stands beside Joe De Sena’s home. An old silo stands at the core, which has been converted to a magnificently tall shower. Just imagine showering in the rain and you’ve got it.
The inner rooms hug tight around a central, worn wooded spiral staircase that leads up to the Bride’s bed. That’s right, this is the prized Bridal Suite for when Joe throws weddings at his place. Apparently, it’s reserved for beautiful women, and unimaginably tough men with a taste for taking on impossible challenges.
Tony has lost some 38 members of his family to cancer, which is a stunning total. You can’t help but do the math, can you? How many family members can you name from memory? Is it 38? What if they were all taken away by the same disease, can you imagine that?
In response to cancer’s attack on his family, the man decided that he would do what he could do, and nothing less. He strapped a refrigerator to his back and began running across London and the United Kingdom.
I know, that’s unimaginable.
“There were times when I was sure I wouldn’t make it, you know? The time I fractured my femur, that was a low moment. But, all you need is to feel the energy from the people around you. You just keep telling yourself, ‘Three more steps, just three more steps.’”
All you need is to feel the energy from the people around you. You just keep telling yourself, ‘Three more steps, just three more steps.’”
All at once your definitions of strength go out the window. Can you imagine, running across an entire nation with an appliance on your spine? Tony did that, and now with all the forces of Pittsfield at his back, he’s out to run across the United States.
“My Uncle was a business man in the States, and a good one. He had some property out in California with a beautiful lake and all. Then the cancer came. So, I’m going to carry my fridge all the way to that lake and I’m going to bury it there. I can’t say for sure that I’ll make it, but if I do, I’m going for a swim. That’ll be the end of Tony the Fridge.”
We will be posting a tracker of Tony’s progress to the Daily site as soon as he starts making his way across the country. Crossfit Box owner’s, we need you to help us generate some support along the way. Let’s step up and get this man exactly what he needs to see this done!
During a break Tony told an amazing story from his childhood, I just have to share it.
He recalled a terrible dream from when he was a boy. He was in his room and awoke to the sound of his mother wailing in the kitchen. Young Tony stumbled down the hallway to find his mother bent forward with her head in her hands, crying uncontrollably. Standing beside her, there was a tall dark force, it’s hand gripped his mother’s shoulder. The figure stared down into Tony’s eyes and began to laugh.
He awoke moments later to the sound of crying in the kitchen. In a surreal turn, he stumbled down the hallway to discover his mother and a Policeman offering condolences. With a touch of the shoulder, “Sorry for your loss, Ma’am.”
Tony did’t lose his father to cancer. Black ice on the open road did the work. But the message seemed clear enough. Something was picking a fight with Tony. He took it as a sign. “Ever since that day my mission has been to knock the smile of that fucking face. What do you think, boys, do I have it in me?”
I would never doubt you, Tony. We’ll be there to offer our support. You’re going to have that swim, my friend.
- Find out more about Tony’s story at TonyTheFridge.com.
- Follow Tony on Facebook and Twitter to learn the very latest news about the Fridge’s U.S. journey.
Chris, you are a legit writer bro! I am going to have to pick up your book. Is Tony going through Florida?
I appreciate that.
Ever since reading this, the image of Tony’s dream has stuck with me. “The figure stared down into Tony’s eyes and began to laugh.” It is incredible Tony chose to fight back, and instead of letting it haunt him in fear, using it as part of his motivation.
It stuck with me hard. Powerful story, eh?
THIS IS THE BEST EPISODE EVER!!!!!! AMAZING….. THANKS GUYS!!!
[…] for a family driven food revolution in the country. Next, our mind’s were blown by our new friend Tony the Fridge, who will soon continue his epic fight against cancer by running across the continental United […]
“If you ever lose somebody you love, keep them alive by doing something that they would do. Be adventurous if they were adventurous, read a book if they liked to read, get a dog if they had a dog. Keep them alive. Take some of their beliefs and morals, values, and bring them into your life and you’re never going to lose them.” This will absolutely stick with me. Got me thinking what I can do to honor the far too many that I’ve lost – very much looking forward to how I can keep my momma alive. Thank you so much.