University of Ottawa Heart Institute Foundation

Pennies For Pounds

My name is Syd Gravel. In 2019, at the age of 67, I was training to reach the Nationals in the Canadian Powerlifting Union. My spouse Judy had already qualified for the competitions in Ottawa and eventually took the Silver medal.

As fate would have it though, an aneurysm was discovered on my upper aortic artery and my powerlifting efforts were shut down immediately.

On December 27th, 2019 I attended under the care of Dr. Munir Boodhwani and after several hours was now the recipient of a carbon fiber upper aortic artery.

Since then I was able to return to powerlifting. It's been a journey...I lift again but I have had to change my powerlifting techniques. I can no longer use the Valsalva breathing technique when lifting and I watch my blood pressure regularly. I had to start lifting right from scratch to "feel" the weights as I progress and I also chose to drop from 265 pounds to 220 pounds in body weight.

To thank the Heart Institute and Dr. Boodhwani for their support and work, I chose to offer to do something that I am good at and that is powerlifting. In March of 2021, I trialed a marathon of powerlifting over a 7.5 hour period and lifted 82,480 pounds. So I know I can do that much in 7.5 hours, the question now is what can I lift in a 10 hour marathon of bench press, squats and deadlifts? And what if we had a team of people all doing the same thing during this 10 hour marathon of weight lifting?

So, on November 13, 2021, Covid-19 restrictions permitting, my lovely spouse Judy and I are raising money in support of the University of Ottawa Heart Institute Foundation by participating in a Powerlifting Marathon, which will consist of 10 hours of bench pressing, deadlifts and squats.

We are reaching out to you for a very specific reason. Our fundraising page is set up as a team so you can join in as a team member with us.

Please don’t restrict yourself from participating just because you don’t lift weights or can't go for 10 hours. If you prefer to run miles, or ride a bike or do treadmill work, those are all welcomed and measurable activities. Or even lift weights as well but for only an hour or so...whatever you can do, every little bit helps.

Our fundraising is based on pounds we lift and so we call the event “Pennies for Pounds”, but you can have your supporters donate to your efforts based on miles run or cycled or tread-milled. It’s your call.

We look forward to you joining our team.

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