Casey Sparrow’s first experiences with CrossFit were doing the Girl Hero Wods with a friend. Casey joined CrossFit Harrodsburg last year to spend more time and do CrossFit with his wife, Lisa, of 22 years. Casey and Lisa met in college and have been together ever since. When they discovered Casey had cancer, their community at CrossFit Harrodsburg were immediately there for support and to lean on. CrossFit Harrodsburg is a small box with a built-in tight community where all the members know Casey. The members were not surprised by Casey’s continued dedication and determination to continue with CrossFit even after diagnosis. Members said, ”Casey is an absolute inspiration. CrossFit is hard to do when you are healthy. Casey is religious about showing up and putting in 100%. When we look at him, it keeps us from complaining.” The owner of CrossFit Harrodsburg stated, “He has every excuse in the world to not be there, but he is one of the most die-hard athletes I have.”
Casey was diagnosed in 2014 with Stage IV Colorectal Cancer which has now spread to the liver and lungs. For initial treatment, Casey completed eight regimens of chemotherapy and after had numerous surgeries to remove cancerous cells in his liver and colon. During a fourteen month period, he had four surgeries. While in the hospital, Casey completed courses to get his Superintendent for Schools licensure. Casey was unable to workout during this time, but came back after recovery from surgery. In 2016 he was honored at CrossFit Harrodsburg as Male Athlete of the Year.
At the beginning of 2017, Casey began driving weekly three hours trips to Vanderbilt University for cancer trials. Without any trials, his prognosis is one year to live. Casey is now in the middle of his third trial. As a middle school principal responsible for 800 students and 45 staff, he misses work as little as possible. Additionally, he ensures he makes it to the box the day before his treatments to get in a WOD. Casey’s doctors believe the reason he has survived the disease this long is due to his healthiness from doing CrossFit. Casey agrees, asserting exercise and diet have been a key ingredient in his longevity.
One of his buddies says, “He’s all around that good of a guy. He comes into the box and gives it 110%. Whether it is coming off a hard workout or a treatment. He always has a pleasant demeanor; and a sense of peace and purpose.”
Casey’s wife, Lisa, says the box has provided so much support to include emotional support and meals. Last fall, the box held an event for Casey. People from all over, members of other boxes, students, family and friends, showed up to support him. All were moved watching his family attempt CrossFit workouts for the first time and to see such a tight knit family of support. One person said, “Casey teaches us the value of family and teamwork. Those are the values that really stick with you through thick and thin… when it really matters.“
Casey’s wife Lisa says, “We thoroughly believe it is all about mindset. If he had taken the approach that he was dying he would probably be dead. He has the attitude that he can handle anything thrown at him.” They now follow the mantra, live like you're dying, which they attribute to Tim McGraw.
“Before we learned Casey had cancer we didn't take advantage of everything. We were stuck in a rut. Now we are living life the way it is supposed to be lived.”