It was October 2007 when I first heard of this relatively unknown fitness regimen called CrossFit. A friend of mine, Richard Lewis, emailed me a picture of himself doing a workout that entailed throwing a 20lb medicine ball against a wall while hitting a target that was 10ft high — and doing so 150 times. For someone who already had their routine down at a global gym, this workout concept was so strange and foreign to me. Yet, I was intrigued.

I paid a visit to the only CrossFit “Box” on the island — a small, little hole-in-the-wall place on Waikamilo Road called CrossFit Oahu, run by Bryant Powers. He put me through my first workout and in that one hour of sweat drenching, muscle burning agony, I was hooked. I was now a CrossFitter.

Flash forward to 2011, the Hawaii CrossFit community was growing with eight boxes across the islands. One thing very noticeable to me was how all the boxes operated in their own little silos. Members of these eight boxes were essentially doing the same thing, yet everyone did so in their own clique with little to no cross-pollinating among boxes. It reminded me of years growing up and attending a Hawaii high school: very insular and cliquish. It just felt that something needed to be done to draw the community together. In 2011, I had the time and the energy to take on that challenge.

Together with the help of Tiffany Bove, John Bentley, Sam Taylor, my wife Raina Amey, and the financial support of my company, Hawaii VA Loans, we put on the very first Hawaii VA Games event (formerly called “The Showdown”) in October 2011.

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Our primary goal with the VA Games was two-fold: 1) bring the Hawaii CrossFit community together and 2) use this event as a way to give back to our community. Now, six years later and through the addition of committee members Tony Narvaes and Marichris Diga-Lazo, the Labor Day weekend event at the Blaisdell Arena has become Hawaii’s premier functional fitness gathering place. It is a place where people from all over Hawaii and beyond can test their teamwork, cheer on their friends, and bond with others who share similar health and fitness passions.

Philanthropically, we will have raised over $100,000 for local charities that include Operation Homefront Hawaii, Valley of the Rainbows, Pukoa Kane Aina, US. Vets and in 2016, Na Kama Kai.

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The road to where the VA Games first started, and how far it has come, has been a long journey — one that I am, personally, very proud being a part of. That said, it’s not an easy announcement for me to write that the 2016 VA Games will be the very last.

Over the years, we’ve seen tremendous growth. Our core volunteer committee of five have all stepped up to the challenge and taken on larger roles for the love of what the VA Games represents to our community. We, as a committee, do feel an obligation to the community that looks forward to this event every year, but we also have an obligation to ourselves, our careers, and to our families. As the event has flourished, we’ve put in more time, energy, and effort to make sure that it is conducted with the utmost professionalism — something we feel the community truly deserves. We have also come to realize that we must STAY TRUE to ourselves and understand when it’s time to let it go. That time is now.

By announcing now that the 2016 VA Games will be the very last event, our intention is to give enough time to allow others who share our same commitments to fitness, bringing people together, and giving back to the community to take on the challenge of continuing what we started in 2011.

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On behalf of the entire VA Games Committee, we’d like to say MAHALO to everyone who has played a role in shaping this event over the last six years — the judges, volunteers, media crew, sponsors, spectators, and of course, the competitors. It was truly an honor to work alongside and get to know all of you.

We’re proud of the legacy that the Hawaii VA Games has left. We look forward to making our final event on September 3rd & 4th, one to remember.

Warmest Aloha,

Gabe Amey — Director / Hawaii VA Games

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