Molly’s First Hero Workout and Devin’s Dash


At Molly's first Hero Workout (L), Devin's mom Christine, and Barb (R).
At Molly's first Hero Workout (L), Devin's mom Christine, and Barb (R).

Hero Workouts are a staple in the CrossFit Community. It is what sets it apart from any other workout program I have done. My nine-year-old daughter did her first one…it was awesome!

Devin now resides in heaven with Molly. He too had a piece of him dedicated to helping others and he too died of a brain tumor. A road race in his honor brought service to humanity to the forefront of everyone there.

It is Veteran’s Day weekend…and as is the usual in my house, my daughter Molly wanted to know exactly why we were being treated to a three-day weekend. So, my simple explanation was that we were taking time out to remember our Military Veterans… the men and women who have been in the armed forces. She immediately wanted to know how this was different from Memorial Day, to which I explained that Memorial Day was to remember those who had died in service to our country.

Devin’s Dash takes place in November. While there is no connection to the military or CrossFit it is an event done to remember and honor Devin’s legacy. People show up to run for him and think about his short life and his mother’s mission. They show up to raise money and help others.

As I was planning my workout Sunday, I decided to do a Hero Workout. In the CrossFit Community Hero Workouts are a major piece of the fabric that knits us together as athletes. While a CrossFit workout may be replicated, the experience of completing a Hero Workout is like no other. When I announced my intentions, Molly perked right up. “Can I do it with you Mommy”? I had to ponder for a moment (and only a moment) what my answer would be. “Of course!” I replied. I posted four different workouts on my Facebook page looking for a comrade with whom to share the workout. CrossFit did not disappoint. Kim Nadeau, a former athlete of mine from Concord High School and a current White Mountain CrossFit workout buddy came through. We all met at Memorial Field at 3:00 and decided to do “Michael”.

Roughly 1500 people filled a parking lot behind Jack’s Abby Craft Lagers in Framingham MA. A sea of green “Devin’s Army” shirts filled the space. There were other shirts being worn that were dedicated to other children who had dies. Cady’s Comrades for one. I wore my MollyBTheMiracle shirt for Molly and Rachel. Pam wore a MollyWOD shirt for Molly. Games, a raffle, food, beer, music and much more was being offered along with the race.

This particular workout is named for Navy Lieutenant Michael McGreevy, aged 30 of Portville New York who was killed in Afghanistan on June 28th 2005. As prescribed, the workout consists of running an 800m, then doing 50 back extensions, then 50 sit ups. This sequence is repeated three times. Since we did not have a GHD machine upon which to do the back extensions and sit ups we simply used the ground. Molly, at age nine was clearly too young to do this work out in its pure form, so I scaled it for her. Scaling workouts is also common in CrossFit. It is a means of making the workout achievable for people of all fitness and ability levels. Molly would do a 400M followed by 10 sit ups and 10 back extensions. She would also do three rounds.

The race is in honor of Devin Suau, a six-year-old bundle of fun who developed a rare and deadly brain tumor called a diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma or DIPG. From his diagnosis in January of 2017, he lived just 10 months. He leaves behind three older brothers along with his parents. What kept them going was the hope that someone would be the first to beat this cancer, so “why not Devin” became their mantra.

We got to it. Kim and I running the 800, Molly doing a 400…all of us grunting and panting on the grass as we worked through our exercises. At one point I was coming off the final turn and could see Molly finishing her sit ups. She jumped right up and started running. Her slender body and tender heart floating around the track on a Sunday afternoon made my heart catch…I started to cry…athletic endeavors do not come easy to Molly…but she is not afraid to work hard. She is also extremely intelligent and sensitive so doing a Hero Workout and what that means was not lost on her…she was running for Michael McGreevy.

As a current back of the packer, I was surrounded by a variety of people of all ages and abilities. I chatted with as many of them as I could. While not all of them knew Devin, all of them had a connection to his tragic death. They had their own stories and reasons for running the race. No one in my little running group was doing this race for themselves. Pam, another of my CrossFit friends was running to support me. Everyone had someone. So did I, I was running for Molly. I was running for my cousin Caleb who also died of a DIPG. He was 8 when he ran ahead to heaven. I ran for Devin. Most importantly I ran for Christine, Devin’s mother. I ran for her efforts and her grief, her humor and her pain. All of this fueled my tired old self along the roads of Framingham on a mild November day.

When we were done, we all high fived and jogged a “granny shuffle” cool down lap. Forty-nine-year-old me…thirty-eight-year-old Kim…nine-year-old Molly sharing the best and worst parts of the workout. For me it was how slow I was at the sit-ups and back extensions…”Yeah”, replied Kim, “I gained on you there”. For Kim it was the running. She has been struggling with some lower leg injuries of late and has lost some of that fitness. “The running was not fun”. Molly didn’t say much…she was mostly excited that she had been included and that she had finished. We found a nice woman to take our picture and got into the car. As we pulled out of the parking lot Molly said “I like Hero Workouts Mom. They make it easier to keep going”. I had to agree with her. “It is what I loved about doing “Murph” on Memorial Day” I told her, the whole time I thought about him”. She was quiet for a while and then said “Next year, I am going to do the whole thing!” “That will take some training” I replied…”I know she said, but it’s the least I can do”.

When I was done, I waited for Pam. We hugged and bemoaned our slow times. I found Christine and hugged her too. We got water and posed for pictures. We drank a beer and bought raffle tickets. We watched families share this day with their children. We talked about how humbling it is to run for someone else, for a cause bigger than ourselves. Devin was our hero that day. We did it for him.

I am not always the best role model for my daughters. I lose my patience. I get frustrated. I am often late and typically disorganized. But they do see me live a healthy life and celebrate my body for its accomplishments rather than it’s appearance…and today…Molly saw two women meet at a track to do a workout named for a fallen soldier for no reason other than to honor his memory through hard work, thus honoring themselves. I am incredibly proud of Molly for completing her first Hero Workout…but mostly for “getting it”. Thank-you White Mountain CrossFit, Thank-you Michael McGreevy and Thank-you to all of our Veterans and current military personnel. Happy Veteran’s Day.

I remain the same role model today for my alive daughter Gracie and my baby boy Jack. All that I said above rings true now. I go to Amoskeag CrossFit now and have a different CrossFit buddy in this story but the essence of the days and the reasons for working out remain the same. We did it for Michael then, and for Devin now. We did it because we could. I always wonder why it takes tragedy to create such amazing events. Why is it that people must die for this level of gratitude and thanks to show itself. I am not sure there is an answer, but I will continue to take part. Thank you for your service, Michael, and thank you for being so brave Devin, and for having such a terrific mom.

One Response

  1. Thank you Barb for writing such a beautiful Tribute to your Molly, Devin & Michael. We remember seeing you last Sunday at Devins 5K. It’s always such a great turnout. Unfortunately due to my health issues (Robin) I am never able to run, but I am ALWAYS Blessed that we get to Volunteer & Donate Raffle items to a cause so near & dear to our hearts. Unfortunately we never had the Honor of meeting Sweet Devin, but he takes up so much of our heart just by being able to help carry on his Legacy and help his family.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *