They come for the Yoga, and nama-stay for the cause.
On November 18, over 50 people rolled out their yoga mats to get their zen on for the fifth annual hOMe Base Yogathon. Participants each raised $150 to help Home Base while achieving the ultimate state of relaxation.
“It is only because of our military’s selfless service and sacrifice that we have the freedoms we have. I hold this event each year because I never take that for granted,” yoga instructor and event organizer Jacqui Bonwell said. For the first time, Bonwell held the event at her studio, the Canton Yoga Shala. In previous years, the event had been held at CrossFit Home Base, also in Canton.
So far, the 2016 event has raised $11,673 for Post-9/11 Veterans, Service Members and their Families. Over the past five years, the event has raised an incredible $83,000. Bonwell said she was inspired to create the event after a friend and Veteran received treatment at Home Base.
“We fundraise for Home Base not only say thank you, but to SHOW our thanks.” Bonwell continued, “The least I could do is provide some type of support for Veterans and their Families upon returning home, and donating to Home Base’s mission in healing invisible wounds was the perfect fit.”
Being a Home Base fundraiser, the Yogathon took a steep departure from the average Yoga class agenda. Rather than immediately beginning with a stretch and warm up, the event began with a reading of names of fallen Post-9/11 Iraq and Afghanistan soldiers from Massachusetts.
When participants entered Bonwell’s studio, they were greeted with an LED tealight and a name written on a piece of paper. Once settled at their mats, participants were instructed to turn on their faux candle as they heard their assigned soldier’s name called out. As a sea of light filled the room, a bagpiper played Amazing Grace, further honoring Massachusetts’ fallen.
After a touching homage, participants were ready to engage in a two-hour yoga session. Bonwell was ready to get the fun started, stating, “I don’t think any one of those men or women we honor would EVER want us to sit around and feel bad for them.”
After Bonwell warmed up the participants, fellow instructors Bill MacDonald and Danny Dwyer took the reins for a high-energy second half of the class. Quick transitions between poses allowed the duo to pick up the pace and get everyone’s hearts racing.
Cindy Bowser, the event’s fourth Yoga instructor, closed out the evening with a speech that was written in her brother-in-law’s memory. Sgt. Danny Vasselian was killed in action in Afghanistan on December 23, 2013 while serving his third tour of duty. Sgt. Vasselian posthumously received a Bronze Star Medal for exposing himself to the enemy so his fellow soldiers could make it to safety.
“I feel it’s the least we can do for our men and women in uniform. I wish I had a million dollars to give,” Bonwell said.