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St. Albert gym plans row-a-thon for cancer survivor

CrossFit Good & Evil rallies to support athlete
ROW FOR CANCER — James Radford (right) and the crew at the CrossFit Good & Evil gym in St. Albert are holding a 24-hour row-a-thon Feb. 24 and 25 to raise money for cancer survivor Cathy Ferrari (on rowing machine). Ferrari has inspired members of the gym for her commitment to fitness throughout her years-long struggles with cancer. KEVIN MA/St. Albert Gazette

A group of St. Albert athletes plan to row for 24 hours this weekend to help an inspirational peer fight breast cancer.

About eight people will be at St. Albert’s CrossFit Good & Evil gym this Feb. 24 and 25 as part of the Cathy's Fight Back fundraiser. The event will see the athletes exercise in shifts on rowing machines for 24 hours to raise money for gym member Cathy Ferrari, who is recovering from breast cancer surgery.

CrossFit is a fitness program designed to prepare you for anything life throws at you, whether that be hiking in Jasper or lifting sacks of concrete at Home Depot, said CrossFit Good & Evil owner James Radford. Classes might involve running, lifting weights, rowing machines, and many other exercises.

Radford said Ferrari has been an extremely active member of his gym almost since it opened four years ago, despite two bouts of cancer.

“Throughout this whole process, she never missed a class,” Radford said.

Radford said Ferrari’s perseverance has been a huge inspiration to everyone in the gym, especially to those who see her outpacing or out-lifting them.

“If you’ve ever been tired and [thought] you can’t make a workout or do a workout, all you have to do is remember what Cathy goes through and [how she] still shows up every day,” he said.

“It’s pretty wild.”

Ferrari, who lives in Edmonton, said she was first diagnosed with liver cancer in 2022. Later, she learned she had breast cancer. Although the cancer made her sick and tired, she kept training at Radford’s gym to keep her strength up.

“My saving grace is I still continued to exercise as best I could,” she said, which bolstered her physical and mental strength during her treatment.

Ferrari said she recently had breast cancer surgery and has had to temporarily stop doing CrossFit to recover from it.

After learning cancer had put a roadblock in Ferrari’s fitness efforts, Radford said he and other gym members decided to hold a fundraiser to help her with her medical bills. They settled on a 24-hour row to reflect her struggles. As of Feb. 19, they had raised $1,310 of their $2,000 goal, almost all of which was from gym members.

Radford said he and about seven other gym members will do hour-long shifts to keep two rowing machines going from noon Saturday to noon Sunday. Rowers will watch CrossFit documentaries and cheer each other on, while other gym members will bring food and drinks for support.

“The rower is a full-body workout,” Radford said, and you would typically only work out on it for maybe 20 minutes a day — not multiple hours, as he and the rowers plan to do. He expects they will get sore butts and backs very quickly.

Radford said he kicked off the fundraiser about two weeks ago, and initially hoped to surprise Ferrari with it. She ended up learning about it within four hours because of the tight-knit nature of the CrossFit community.

Ferrari said she was brought to tears when she learned of the fundraiser.

“It shows how much more than a gym [this is]," she said. "It feels like they’re actually my friends, and they’re caring.”

Ferrari said she hopes to get back to the gym once she heals up.

“Never give up,” was her advice to others struggling with cancer.

“Keep going.”

Radford said anyone who wants to join the rowers should contact him at 780-991-6065. Details on the fundraiser can be found at

Kevin Ma

About the Author: Kevin Ma

Kevin Ma joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2006. He writes about Sturgeon County, education, the environment, agriculture, science and aboriginal affairs. He also contributes features, photographs and video.
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