A group of women cheer from the front row of spectators at the Muscles for Miracles powerlifting charity event at Milestone Lifestyle Fitness in Tyler. They hold up a sign that reads “Lifting for Lucy.” Their friend, Teri Heller, is competing in her first ever powerlifting competition in memory of her daughter, Lucy, who lived with special needs and died last year at age 8.
Heller, 43, a Lindale resident, is the Respite Care project manager at the Christus Trinity Mother Frances Respite Care Program, sponsored in part by the Children’s Miracle Network. The program helps families of children with special needs.
Heller felt called to pick up a barbell and train for Muscles for Miracles as it benefits Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals and pediatric health care in Northeast Texas.
“We help lift their burdens by having an event like this,” said Robin Rowan, Children’s Miracle Network director for Christus Trinity Mother Frances.
The event, which happened Saturday, was founded three years ago by Mike Morrison.
“We’re doing this for the kids,” Morrison said. “We try to have some of those with the biggest hearts help the littlest ones.”
Morrison and his wife Jamie have a 6-year-old son with autism who also spent time in the NICU as a baby. Jamie is a Neonatal ICU and Pediatrics nurse at Christus Trinity Mother Frances Hospital-Tyler.
Thirty-two competitors of all ages, male and female, and various skill level, competed in bench press and deadlift including Christian Kearney, 31, of Greenville. Kearney is a seven-time world record holder in the International Powerlifting League. He is also a graduate of the University of Texas at Tyler.
Also on hand from UT Tyler were the fraternity brothers of Sigma Alpha Epsilon. They helped run and promote the event.
“Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals is our fraternity’s national philanthropy, so helping facilitate a weightlifting event that benefits children was a natural fit,” said Jamil Tharp, SAE president.