• Marcy Behrmann

“Lift Heavy, Pet Dogs” Competition & Fundraiser

Updated: Oct 10, 2019


“Lift Heavy, Pet Dogs” was the slogan on the two Masters winners on Sunday, September 8 at Woodmere Fitness Club’s third annual Deadlift for Dogs competition and fundraiser. And the 14 lifters certainly took that catchphrase to heart.


The 14 participants -- some repeat competitors and several new entries -- enjoyed showing off their lifting skills and settling down following the meet by petting some of the adoptable dogs brought by Ruff House Rescue.



WFC owner Inna Koppel started the event three years ago when she noticed more and more of her clients were bringing home pets. “I wanted to give them an opportunity to learn about animal rescue by doing an adoption event at our gym.”


Inna’s inspiration for the event was Kathy Listner, a barbell training enthusiast and volunteer with Ruff House Rescue.


“This meet brings two worlds together -- the world of powerlifting and animal rescue. Many gyms have ‘gym dogs,’ and I knew that the lifting community would come together for this cause.”


Participant Melinda Strauss started lifting at Woodmere Fitness Club in November 2018. She opened with a 155-pound deadlift and finished with 190 pounds.


Melinda was excited about Deadlift for Dogs because it combines two of her loves: Lifting and dogs. “This is my first meet and it's the most important to me because my own pup, Louie, is a Ruff House Rescue dog!”


Rivka Breuer was participating in her second Deadlift for Dogs. She began with 215 and completed her third attempt with 237 pounds.




Rivka, who has been training at Woodmere Fitness Club for four years, joined Deadlift for Dogs because, “I love dogs and I know it is a good cause for me to get out of my comfort zone.”


Mens Open winner Elisha Graff has participated in all three Deadlift for Dogs competitions “because I love deadlifting, and honestly I am happy to support any cause that is near and dear to Inna.”


“I love being able to compete in front of family and friends, challenge myself, and benefit from the adrenaline rush yet friendly and supportive environment at the meets. Competing gives me an opportunity to go for PR lifts that would be much harder to achieve in a regular gym setting.”


This year’s event raised over $2,000 and found “furever” homes for 12 animals! Participants received swag bags from Front Row Apparel, T-shirts, and the knowledge that their strength was not only helping them, but also assisting Ruff House Rescue, a 501(c)(3) non-profit, volunteer-based organization dedicated to rescuing dogs and cats from high-kill rural shelters.


Woodmere Fitness Club and Ruff House Rescue spread word of the event on social media. Community members, prospective adopters, and lifters’ family and friends mulled around outside the gym when the meet was over to hold, kiss and take home dogs and cats in need.


The event was open to men, women, and Tori Koren, age 7, who kicked off the competition with a 25-pound deadlift.



The winners were:


  • Women's Masters: Diane Drakopoulos

  • Women's Open: Caitlin Ragione

  • Men's Masters: Demetrius Drakopoulos

  • Men's Open: Elisha Graff

  • Best Costume: Marcy Farrell


Congratulations to the winners and supporters of this event!


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