Cross-fitters raise money for rare childhood disease

The team from Corker Outdoor, Award sponsor Jason Varney (Thomson, Snell & Passmore) & Eamonn Holmes

Crossfit Tonbridge and Crossfit TAG in the Sevenoaks Weald, run by Joel St John and wife Emma, will challenge everyone, from five years and up, to compete in CrossFit challenges – or even test how long they can hold a plank – to win donated prizes and celebrate Ophelia St John’s first birthday in May.

Due to a very rare condition affecting her chromosome 10, the little girl was born with multiple complications including club feet, a missing kidney, kidney dysplasia, cleft palate, differences in her brain shape and other problems, including a collapsed lung and heart issues, said father Joel.

Ophelia’s mother Emma continues to coach part-time, having been the children’s coach before the little girl was born, Joel told the Times.

Although it was the Guy’s Hospital genetics team which diagnosed Ophelia, and she remains under the care of specialist services in the NHS, the charity Unique provided practical advice for life with such an unusual illness, Joel explained.

“Because it’s rare and wide ranging; there’s hardly any info out there in digestible format for families like us. They’re solving that problem,” he said, adding that the charity had written useful guides to life stages such as teething, schooling, adolescence, travel insurance and more.

At the event on May 14, entrants will start with small CrossFit-based challenges, followed by a competition in which the four owners will take on teams of four coaches, and teams of four members.

“The day is designed to be very inclusive, so our members from age five up to 65 can all take part,” stressed Joel.

Raffle prizes at the event include a month’s supply of micro-greens, a 30-minute massage, a personal trainer session, afternoon tea for two at Salomons Estate and more.

There is a pay-what-you-want barbecue and cake sale. This is not the gym’s first foray into charity, said Joel.

“We recently raised money for Cancer Research over November and December last year. Earlier in the year, we raised money for a community- accessible defibrillator and more.”

Contact or find more information about Unique at

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