Webster’s dictionary defines power as the ability to act or produce an effect. Athletes who compete in the sport of powerlifting exert their power by moving heavy barbells. One such powerlifter is Ray “Ray Ray” Williams (a.k.a. Optimus Prime). Ray Ray Williams is a World Record holder with currents stats of a 1080 lb. Back Squat, 545 lb. Bench Press, and an 878.5 lb. Deadlift. Mister Optimus Prime is a sponsored athlete for SBD USA, Redcon1, and Rogue Fitness. He is also an Aplyft ambassador.
On March 23, 2019, Gorilla Bench Training Center (located in Clearwater, Florida) hosted a Meet and Greet Ray Williams fundraising event for 50 Legs. 50 Legs is a charity organization that dedicates its efforts to help amputees. According to their website, 50legs.org, “The purpose of 50 Legs is to provide amputees with the necessary care and prosthetics that they could not otherwise afford and to help them live a happier and healthier life.”
The Meet and Greet Ray Williams charity event was sponsored by Gaffin Industrial Services, Southern Muscle, TECO, Redcon1, and Gorilla Events. In addition to the opportunity to interact with mister Optimus Prime himself, the event also had various vendors showcasing nutrition products and athletic apparel. There were also food trucks on site and activities for children including face painting.
The fundraising event also included a Specially Fit Foundation lifting session. Ray Ray Williams shared his expertise with the Specially Fit athletes and gave them mini lessons too. The Specially Fit athletes were also eager to learn tips from the experts from Gorilla Bench. As the Specially Fit athletes took to the lifting platform, Ray Ray Williams provided one-on-one coaching and encouragement when needed. One example of this was when Ray Ray Williams equipped Ben Greer with some pointers that could improve his technique on the deadlift. Ben eagerly implemented his newfound knowledge while developing new skills. Ray Ray Williams also shared insight with Gregory Hawkins, who was lovingly nicknamed Big Greg by the Specially Fit Foundation. When Big Greg attempted a 405 lb. deadlift, mister Optimus Prime was right there cheering him on. Although Big Greg did not set a deadlift PR that day, he definitely set a smile PR. Another heartwarming moment was when Paquita Williams could not contain her excitement as she watched Liz Montego perform a deadlift. The day concluded with a Giving to Gains Powerlifting Competition and Awards Ceremony.
The charity event raised a grand total of $21,049 for 50 Legs. However, the event was a success for a greater reason. Besides dollars and cents, besides the weight on a loaded barbell, the biggest number that day was the accumulation of smiles, high fives, fist bumps, hugs, hoots, and hollers from everyone in attendance. The comradery formed between diverse members of the community— people from various backgrounds and different walks of life, the genuine acceptance and appreciation of one another, that was the true reward. The event proved that power is more than brute strength; the power of community creates a solid foundation for everyone to build their dreams upon.