"When you get women together, something powerful happens."
Lindsey Marcelli is responsible for harnessing the power of women across the globe through her Girls Gone Rx events. She is the owner and head trainer of CrossFit Eminence in Thornton, Colorado and the founder of Girls Gone Rx (GGRX), an all women's CrossFit team competition series that raises awareness for breast cancer. Every event raises money for Bright Pink, a national non-profit organization focused on prevention and early detection of breast and ovarian cancer in young women.
GGRX started as a single event inspired by Lindsey's mother Linda who was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2008. At the time or her diagnosis, Linda's three children were in the military. Lindsey was stationed in Iraq for 15 months where she led her platoon on mission after mission and earned a bronze star. In the midst of all of this, Lindsey received a call from her mom...
"I had to wait weeks to be able to talk to her and when I did, I finally had to tell her my prognosis. It felt awful to share this news with her while she was in such a difficult place, so far away from home. But she is, and always will be, a rock solid soul."
In our interview, we discuss how Lindsey coped with the news of her mother's cancer while being overseas, how Linda is doing now, and how Girls Gone Rx has thrived in the wake of Linda's battle with cancer. Since Linda's diagnosis, Lindsey has turned one event into forty, expanded internationally to Canada, Sweden, and Australia, and added another competition series: Lift Up, a Women's Only Olympic Weightlifting competition (non-sanctioned). Not to mention, Girls Gone Rx raised over $80,000 in 2016. I am honored to introduce this "rock solid soul" and our Fashlete of the Month: Lindsey Marcell...
Fashletics: Lindsey, how did you discover CrossFit?
Lindsey: Originally in 2004 or so, my brother told me about it. At the time, I looked it up and saw Snatch 2-2-2-2-2. I thought, well I don’t know what any of that means, so no thanks! But then I met some friends in the Army and we got into it, especially while deployed. I met a lot of people by just doing CrossFit in Iraq. When I came back, in addition to teaching group fitness classes, I organized the Level 1 for the base and got certified that way.
F: What were your duties while serving in Iraq?
L: I deployed for 15 months to Iraq and throughout most of the tour I was a Platoon Leader for a horizontal construction platoon. My job was to plan, supervise and coordinate all of our missions which included transport of heavy equipment such as scrapers, dozers, back hoe loaders, skid steer, hydraulic excavators. Our goals involved facilitating movement and support of friendly forces while impeding those of the enemy. Towards the end, I worked in logistics and helped coordinate the redeployment of our battalion.
F: How did you cope with the news of your mom’s breast cancer while you were deployed?
L: Whew, a loaded question but here you go!
It took her awhile to tell me…. and she finally told me over the phone. At the time both myself and my brother Luke were deployed.
That day I waited an hour to call home and called her before leaving for a week-long mission. To this day I still cry just thinking back to that phone call. Not just crying about my own feelings, but can you imagine being her?! A mom, with 2 of 3 kids deployed, then you find out you have Breast Cancer….
I cried a lot to myself and sorta just took it all inside. At the time, I wasn’t an emotional person, so to speak, and had to focus on what we were doing with missions. So I kept most of my feelings inside, especially while deployed. No one needs to see me crying for everyone had their own shit to deal with. Plus I was responsible for my entire platoon, so I had to be strong on the outside. I sent her flowers as often as I could until I got home and called to get updates.
F: How did you come up with the idea to start a competition series?
L: We, my husband Kris and I, opened our CrossFit gym here in Denver in 2011 with a goal of building a stronger community. With that outreach, we wanted to do something specific to show support for my mom. So we hosted our first Girls Gone Rx in 2012 at our gym, raising money for a breast cancer charity. So it was a crazy idea, that blew up here in Denver. The community here is so awesome and we try to make it a really fun event for them every year! We took it nationwide in 2014 and had eight gyms host. In 2015 we had twenty-five gyms host and this last year we had about forty events.
F: How has your army experience influenced your life and work?
L: Well, I met my husband while in the military and am very lucky for that. The military experience has shaped how I run our businesses. I am (and when I say "I", I mean we, since my husband and I do everything together) very detail oriented, organized, disciplined, and more. I don’t think we would be successful without our military backgrounds.
Working 14 hour days here, for something you built and love, isn’t nearly comparable to deploying for 15 months. Every day here, together, living out our passion…. is an awesome day.
F: Why did you choose Bright Pink as the recipient of your fundraising?
L: Bright Pink is the only national non-profit organization focusing on the prevention and early detection of breast and ovarian cancer in young women. The organization’s mission is to save women’s lives from breast and ovarian cancer by empowering them to live proactively at a young age.
F: How do you incentivize the competitors to focus on fundraising in addition to the physical competition?
L: I believe, for most, they know someone who has been effected by Breast Cancer; that alone is their incentive. We try to work with sponsors and provide incentives for not only fundraising but competing as well. We are constantly trying to seek out ways to show them how much we appreciate their support! In 2017, 8% of the teams score is fundraising as well. Our mission is #competeforacure and it seems the community totally gets that! We feel very lucky to see how much our events have raised, last year we passed $80,000!
F: How does an all women's competition differ from a co-ed competition?
L: When you get women together, something powerful happens. Not to say it doesn’t when it's co-ed or just guys… Everyone is so supportive and it’s just something amazing to see. Cheering for each other, team work, and so many PR’s and firsts. It is just amazing! Plus it's a good excuse to rock some pink, glitter, and/or tutu’s.
F: Why did you decide to make Girls Gone Rx a Team competition as opposed to an individual competition?
L: I have two brothers, so I picked teams of three, representing each of us. Everything about how and why it started all revolves around my mom and what she had to deal with.
Girls Gone Rx started with the idea of getting women together to benefit a great cause. We wanted to do something that showcased women’s strengths and weaknesses because those are the two most important parts of battling something like cancer. This team building event helps women learn to fight through obstacles and overcome them while learning to be strong, confident and fearless.
You have to learn to be strong even when you’re feeling weak, but sometimes you also have to be willing to be weak and allow your team to support you.
This team building event helps women learn to fight through obstacles and overcome them while learning to be strong, confident and fearless.
F: What do you think an individual can gain from participating in a Girls Gone RX event?
L: Our events are all about lifting each other up and empowering each other! An individual will realize how strong they can be at our events and do things they maybe thought they otherwise couldn't. There are tons of PR's, tons of first pull ups, and more! Plus the outfits, the fun, the vendors... the goal is to just go out and have fun with your best friends.
F: How is your mom doing? How is she involved with Girls Gone Rx?
L: She is awesome! Cancer free, thankfully! My mom is a little spit fire, haha! She isn’t so much involved with planning GGRx, but always checking in on it and she does her annual fundraising as part of our Denver event!
F: From now on, the podium finishers at each event will receive either a Girls Gone Rx or Lift Up necklace which we were incredibly proud to design with you here at Fashletics. Can you please explain the significance behind these words and why you chose them as the event names?
L: With our name, we wanted the community to know that our goal is to always lift each other up and compete for a cure. I am SO pumped about Fashletics giving the ladies these necklaces. They can wear them around with Pride knowing they, that one person, did something to make a difference. Isn’t that what life is all about, making difference. It just takes one person to start the ripple of positive impacts.
We truly are so very thankful for all the support we have been given and thankful for everyone we have met all over! Can’t wait to keep traveling and expand to Europe this year! Hope to see you all at an event coming up!
For more info on how to host or compete in a Girls Gone Rx or Lift Up you can check out the website. You can also follow along on Instagram and Facebook. For Girls Gone Rx and Lift Up jewelry, click here.
Behind the madness of all that is Girls Gone Rx, sits a badass couple and that’s it! Kris and Lins. No huge team, just the two. And same goes for Girls Gone Rx Canada, just Bree and Luke.