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McHenry High School – East Campus students lift weights for charity

McHENRY – Fifteen-year-old Caleb Smith performed a back squat under the weight of 225 pounds, and in return received $225.

He got another $135 for a 135-pound clean and press, and $125 for a bench press of 125 pounds.

It was hard-earned money that, instead of keeping, Smith directed toward the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, plus Project Linus and McHenry-based GiGi's Playhouse. He did this as a participant in this year's Lift-a-thon at McHenry High School – East Campus.

Organized by McHenry High School – East senior Cassidy Belpedio as part of a scholarship application, the lift-a-thon involved about 15 students from various strength and conditioning classes, asking for donations based on how much weight they were able to lift. They lifted for the event the last week in March during their respective classes, said Evan Kozlowski, a physical education teacher at the school.

"You have an option of paying per pound," Smith said. "And I have a really generous grandparent who paid a dollar per pound. My total weight was 485 pounds."

He received a number of donations from other friends and family, too, and expects to ultimately come out with about $900 – a large majority of the event's $1,200 fundraising total, Kozlowski said.

"He did some heavy lifting for us, literally," Kozlowski laughed.

The two local charities – GiGi's Playhouse and Project Linus – will be the beneficiaries of about $400 each while the rest of the proceeds were directed to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, he added.

As for Belpedio, who worked with Kozlowski to organize the event, she came out with a $1,000 community outreach scholarship from the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. She'll head to Illinois State University in the fall to major in criminal justice and minor in Spanish.

"It was really cool to get the scholarship, but even if I hadn't, it still went to a really good cause," Belpedio said.

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