Tony Pearce, of Raleigh NC, joined CrossFit Invoke 4 years ago after realizing he wasn’t reaching his goals in a traditional gym setting. He started out with a boot camp directed by Christmas Abbot, and from there moved on to join Invoke. “I didn’t know CrossFit when I started. I had no idea what I was getting into or how much my life would change.” His ability to challenge himself to stay positive and push himself to be better soon revealed itself in the Invoke community. Not only is Tony a consistent member of the gym, but he also dedicates much of his time using his talent as a professional photographer to give back to his community. Kristen Wall, a friend of Tony and athlete at Invoke describes Tony as “ a fixture at the box—always giving his best and selflessly taking amazing photos of all of us, editing thousands of shots, and posting albums on our Facebook for everyone to enjoy.” Another friend, Snow Roberts , adds that “he is a great guy with a full heart to help other people and athletes, and a huge contributor to our community.”

On June 6, 2015 Tony was diagnosed with Stage 3 colorectal cancer. He was being treated for diverticulitis, and making no progress; they decided to run more tests. It was then, when they found the cancer. Tony has had one round of radiation, chemo and surgery to remove the cancer. He is now on his last round of chemo. With a true fighting spirit, Tony believes that, “if everything goes well I should be done with chemo by May, with surgery in June or July to put me back together.” Thus far, doctors are very optimistic and the prognosis is good.

Tony has been dedicated and focused on participating in the 2016 CrossFit Games Open. He participates on Sundays, first by taking pictures of the members in earlier heats, and only doing the workout himself once everyone has completed theirs. Snow told us that “In 16.1 he put a score up on the board and gave it his best despite how he was feeling.” She went on to tell us about how “[Tony] has maintained a positive fighting attitude throughout the demands of treatment.” Although he doesn’t claim to be a fire breather, Tony pushes himself through workouts to see what he is still capable of. Through his diagnosis Tony says his view of fitness has changed, “Now I believe fitness is not just about how much weight you can lift, how fast you can run, or far you can ride. It is a lifestyle. You need to have a fit body and mind to know fitness.”

The community of CrossFit Invoke has rallied behind Tony throughout this journey. Tony responds to the support very well, in that “every time [he] walks in the door someone asks how [he is] doing.” He ensures us that he never has trouble finding a partner for workouts, “even if they may get a low score or finish last.” The coaches and members have supported his desire to continue training—even creating modifications to guarantee his safety. Tony credits Brandon Garner, the owner of CrossFit Invoke and all around amazing person and coach with being a pillar of support over the past several months. He explains that CrossFit helps him keep a positive attitude and continually shows him that he can do more. ”From day one in my mind I had this beat and was going to do what I needed to win.” Tony is determined not to feel sorry for himself. He has kept a 1-2 day a week training schedule, and sticks around multiple times per week to cheer on other members. Many of the members, including Kristen Wall, look up to him because of his attitude throughout the process of this treatment. “He is an inspiration, and I hope that I, or anyone who received a diagnosis like his, would be able to handle it with as much grace as he has.”

It is because of the strength and resilience he has developed through Crossfit and the support and assistance he has received from his family that Tony has been able to fight. He truly embodies what Everyday Warrior is, and his attitude reflects what we set out to accomplish in our community. He concludes with one piece of advice; simple and understated, but powerful. “I believe attitude makes all the difference. Stay Strong.”