McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

January 23, 2014

Annual benefit that shows some muscle set at Hook Eales Stadium

By MJ Brickey
Digital editor

McALESTER — On March 8, the fourth annual LiftStrong33 Lift-A-Thon and Fitness Challenge to benefit the Eric Allford Memorial Fund will be held in the weight room at Hook Eales Stadium.

Organizers want to give the public notice so competitors have plenty of time to train for the challenge.

Friends and family memorialize Allford yearly by raising funds for scholarships and to benefit local sports. At 23 years old, Wilson “Eric” Allford was killed in a car accident in March 2005 in Edmond, event organizer Lindsey Fassio said.

She said the Lift-A-Thon is a bench-press and weightlifting competition, with a timed fitness obstacle course.

Fassio said Allford was an avid weightlifter and an athlete in high school.

The Lift-A-Thon benefits the Eric Allford Memorial Scholarship given to two McAlester High School seniors every year, she said. However, she said if money raised exceeds the amount of the total scholarships, it will go back into the fund and will be used to benefit local sports.

“The scholarships have been given to nine recipients and all are still in college,” Fassio said. “Last year we gave two $1,500 scholarships and we are hoping to increase the amount.”

Fassio said there’s preference given to students participating in athletics and she said students should speak to McAlester High School administrators about the application process.

Although preference is given to students in athletics, she said all students planning for college are encouraged to apply for the scholarships.

She said organizers of the event are friends and family of the Allfords.

In 2008, Larry and Gayle Allford gave the first $500 Eric Allford Memorial Scholarship in memory of their son. A few years later, Eric’s friends offered to help Larry and Gayle continue the effort.

Fassio said participants are required to sign a waiver and should prepare for the event just as they would any other fitness competition. That includes making sure they’re in good health before signing up.

Organizers are also looking for sponsors.

“We are looking for sponsors. If anyone is interested, please let me know,” Fassio said. “Also, we are now taking orders for T-shirts $15 each.”

For more information, call 918-424-4545.

Donations may be made to the Eric Allford Memorial Fund at P.O. Box 632, McAlester, OK, 74502.