GODFREY — When Brian Belchik ran the few miles from his house to spend time with his brother, he’d notice Iron House Crossfit. The gym is across the street from St. Patrick’s Cemetery, where Chris Belchik is buried.
Belchik thinks of his brother often: how hard Chris worked to lose enough weight to get into the Marine Corps; how what he’d seen in Iraq was starting to affect him; most of all, how much he still misses his younger brother, who would be 41 now.
“There are no negatives to Chris’ service,” Brian said. “I’m brokenhearted but proud of what he did over there. Proud that my brother helped people. He’s at peace.”
Chris Belchik was killed 11 years ago by a mortar round in Iraq’s Anbar province. He was on his second tour there, assigned to the 2/2 out of Camp Lejeune, N.C. He was 30 years old, married just about a year. Chris was posthumously awarded a Bronze Star with “V” for combat valor and the Purple Heart. A road connecting East Broadway and the berm highway is named for him.
Belchik, 46, joined Iron House Crossfit about a year ago. He imagines they’d both be members if Chris had lived.
The Belchiks’ mom, Lynn Lenker, says Chris was the sort of person who fell back to encourage others if someone was lagging behind on a group run or march.
“He embodied the spirit of Crossfit,” Belchik says.
Crossfit has a strong connection to the military. The program can be found on bases the world over and honors fallen military with special workouts called Hero WODs. One of the better-known is “Murph,” typically done on Memorial Day in honor of Michael Murphy, a Navy SEAL killed in Afghanistan in 2005.
“Through the course of doing Crossfit and Hero WODs, Corey and I started talking and one thing led to another,” Belchik says. Corey Waltz and Kellie Greer are owners of Iron House Crossfit.
“We want to do more fundraisers and like to pay respects to the military with Hero WODS. We decided we’d do one for a local hero,” Waltz says. “Brian was adamant about making sure it was a tough one. But we also made it a partner WOD because of the Marine creed not to leave anyone behind. This lets people work together to get each other through.”
“When we did the 15-5 (Crossfit Games) Open, I lost it,” Belchik says. “I don’t remember it. Mentally, I was in my dark place. Mentally, Iraq took Chris to a dark place. I want to see how hard you can push yourself.”
Everything in the WOD has significance in Chris Belchik’s life and service, including the number of tours he served, the unit he was with when he was killed and how old he was when he died. The plan is to have the final run pass Chris’ grave.
The event, open to the public, is 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 22. Cost is $37.50; register by Aug. 12 and receive a commemorative T-shirt. The WOD can be done in an hour and heats will be assigned once registration closes. A BBQ and cold drinks will follow the workout.
Proceeds from the fundraiser will go to US Veterans Foundation, a local nonprofit founded in 2014 and staffed by veterans. The foundation helps veterans find jobs, and a long-term goal is to assist vets suffering from PTSD.
Belchik said he hopes to raise $3,500. So far he’s raised $500 through donations and $1,100 through ticket sales.
“The goal is to get this (fundraiser) done and make it bigger next time,” Belchik says. “I’d like to have something in place next year to raise money specifically for PTSD.”
The Chris Belchik Fundraiser will be held from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 22, 2920 Greenwood Lane, Godfrey
Fee is $37.50; register by Aug. 12 and receive a commemorative T-shirt
To register or make a donation, visit www.belchik.myevent.com.
1974M Row – the year Chris was born
2 rounds: (for his two tours in Iraq)
22 pull-ups – Chris died Aug. 22
24 overhead lunges – Chris’s Marine Expeditionary Unit
30 bar-facing burpees – Chris’s age when he died
22 pull-ups – Chris’s USMC unit
25 thrusters – Chris was born June 25
2004m run – the year Chris died