Lindsay Aronson Ess was born in Richmond, Virginia. Naturally she chose to study Fashion, Marketing and Art History at Virginia Commonwealth University. She was diagnosed with Crohn's Disease, but that didn't stop her from being a great student. Graduating college, and starting her career, Lindsay underwent a common surgery for Crohn's patients. The surgery didn't go as planned and she developed septic shock. After five months in the ICU, three resuscitations and the amputations of her hands, forearms and legs, she was pushed out of the hospital in a wheelchair to begin her new life.
Her perspective on life changed dramatically. She didn't want to put effort into anything professionally unless it was to help people. For the next four years she produced events all over Richmond, VA and was an adjunct professor at VCU. In her event planning career she raised over $40,000 for several charities such as The American Cancer Society and the Richmond LGBT community. During this time, Lindsay was offered an experimental hand transplant surgery. After two years, she received hands again and after several years of intense rehab, she decided to switch gears focusing on her health.
After watching videos of other amputees lifting at CrossFit gyms, she decided to give it a try. It was rocky at first trying to figure out on her own how she could "adapt" the workouts. Through her Godmother she was introduced to Chef of CrossFit Rubicon. He trained her to effectively become an adaptive athlete, and she began competing against other adaptive athletes.
After many years lifting and interning at CrossFit Rubicon, Lindsay made the decision to move back to Texas to reunite with her Grandmother who had just turned 95. After a tough several months dealing with her health and adjusting to San Antonio, she got the itch to start producing events again. Inspired by CrossFit competitions and discussions with her Team SAR (Some Assembly Required), The Arena Competition was born.
In March 2004, Coach Mike was deployed to South Baghdad, Iraq with the 1st Cavalry Division stationed out of Fort Hood, TX. During his 1-year deployment two of his medics each lost a leg in combat. With great sadness and a daily heavy heart, he lost the lives of two medics, two warriors: Charles Odums II (killed in action Memorial Day, Sunday May 30, 2004) and Taylor Burk (fellow Texan, killed in action, January 26, 2005). Everyday he lives his life in their honor, not only for their ultimate sacrifice but to live his life as they would. A life of happiness and sincerity. His men gave more than anyone would ask and expected nothing in return. Since his return from Iraq and subsequent departure from active duty he continues to support our men and women in uniform. Specifically, to those who have returned with not only the memories of a tour of duty but with the physical scars that serve as reminders of combat. Of sacrifice.
Coach Mike has been giving back to our soldiers through fundraising, starting in 2010, when he ran 310 mile over 9 days to raise money for the Wounded Warrior Project. In 2011, Coach Mike raised over $71,000 for the Wounded Warrior Project through an old annual CrossFit fundraiser, Fight Gone Bad. In 2014, Coach Mike contributed to the training for U.S. Sled Hockey hopefuls and soon to be team members as they prepared for the paralympics. The U.S. Paralympic sled hockey team went on to win gold in Sochi, Russia. In 2015, CrossFit Optimistic held our own Fight Gone Bad, again raising money for Operation Comfort. Now, we are very excited to host another competition to raise money for Operation Comfort, The Arena: Adaptive vs Able Bodied.