MARYSVILLE – As a staff member, Quinton Morris pulls his weight around the corridors of the Marysville YMCA.
Pull is something he’ll be doing plenty more of when the wheelchair-bound Morris raises money for adaptive fitness needs during his 4th annual Draggin’ Dumbbells for disabilities fundraiser for the Y.
Morris, 28, was born with cerebral palsy, a chronic neurological disorder that impairs movement and muscle coordination.
The strain of pulling a 15-pound box 20 times around the YMCA gym and weighing it down with 15 pounds of dumbbells is a grueling challenge and proof that exercise is for everybody.
“Dragging the box around the gym is a lot like pushing a wheelchair uphill,” said Scott Ballenger, diverse abilities trainer and coordinator at the YMCA.
He speaks from experience, since for the first time a competition is brewing at this year’s fundraiser between him and Morris. Ballenger is training, so he knows what he’s getting himself into.
“I’m trying to live it down, but my shoulder already hurts just thinking about the laps,” Ballenger said.
Morris started working at the Y last year after years of regular visits.
“Quinton has the support of the other staff members in the trash-talking war, so I’m really going to have to stand up for myself,” Ballenger said jokingly.
As if mano-a-mano isn’t enough to drive them toward generating more funds, a dark horse may enter the competition, too. Nic Trout, 22, from Snohomish was on a recent visit to the YMCA eager to hop on a stationary bike to build up his stamina. Trout uses a wheelchair after suffering a spinal cord injury at 16 while riding his dirt bike when he plunged 36 feet into a ravine.
Trout has had a long road to recovery, but he remains undaunted. He will be completing his associate’s degree at Everett Community College this year, then plans to attend WSU. By summer, he could be riding a bike again. “I’m just waiting for the weather to get better. I’ve got the bike at home and haven’t even used it yet.”
The Marysville YMCA is one of the few facilities in town that offers adaptive fitness programs such as dance, yoga, swimming and personal training.
This is Quinton’s fourth year dragging dumbbells. He raised $1,500 the first year, doubled donations the second year, then doubled that last year to $6,000, reportedly the biggest individual fundraiser countywide. That all goes to the YMCA for adaptive fitness needs, Ballenger said.
“The Y is impressed with the fact that a young man like Quentin, who lives with a disability, is out there trying to raise money to help other people with disabilities,” he said.
Morris said the YMCA is like a second home to him. “There is so much the Y offers to people who come in here,” said Morris, citing the teen center where he used to hang out with friends. “I used to motivate them and help them realize that even though I have a disability it doesn’t hold me back.”
That’s Quinton in a nutshell, Ballenger said. “He has always shown a lot of compassion and empathy toward helping other people with disabilities.”
How to help
Draggin’ Dumbbells is set for 5:30-7 p.m. March 29 at the YMCA, 6420 60th Drive NE.
Marysville’s goal in the YMCA annual campaign is $205,000. To donate, go to ymca-snoco.org.