Pay it Forward: Redmond gym owner overcomes odds

Joe Fonesca has no hands -- but sees no limits, or excuses

Pay it Forward: Inspiration, passion is rewarded

REDMOND, Ore. - What many people see as a limitation, Joe Fonseca sees as an opportunity to motivate.

Joe was born with no hands, but you would never know it.

"You see someone who is always open, always giving, and Joe is that person," said Gretchin Kingston, a Triumph Fitness member.

As the owner of Triumph Fitness in Redmond, his gym members say he's fought hard to live his dream of owning a training facility and motivating people to work hard and push themselves.

Despite his own setbacks, Joe can pump out more pushups, squats and sit-ups than most of the crew.

"When you first know Joe, it's a bad habit for a lot of people to say, 'Can you do this or can you do that?' And after you go play golf with him or play football with him, you don't even ask, you say, 'Let's just go do this', said another gym member, Mike Spitz.

But Joe wants to do more.

"I compete with these guys. When we do our workouts, I'm fighting to be as good as them, as fast as them -- and now they chase me," he said.

He may be able to show up the gym members, but Joe wants to compete in the CrossFit games, a high intensity style of workout involving weights, cardio and cross training.

But due to specific regulations, he needs prosthetic sleeves with hands -- and they cost thousands of dollars.

So his friends, family and gym members want to Pay it Forward. So they surprised him at the gym Thursday night with $500 on behalf of Co-Energy Propane, Mid-Oregon Credit Union and NewsChannel 21.

"We all love you and appreciate everything you do for us," Kingston told Joe. "You are so wonderful. You give to everybody, you give to us. And so we wanted to nominate you for the Pay it Forward contest, and you won for this month."

"They inspire me so much more than they could ever possibly imagine, and walking through the door and seeing what I saw tonight, it was overwhelming," Joe said.

Many hope Joe will use the money to help him compete, but he wants to use it to make the gym even better.

Though he has no hands, Joe says he has no limits, no excuses -- and a lot of love.

"There's so many different things I want to do for them and put it back. Everything we make has gone right back into the gym and trying to make this the perfect home for them and that's what's happened," he said.

Joe is hosting a 24-hour team CrossFit challenge this summer to help raise a few more funds. Every CrossFit in Bend and Redmond is welcome to participate.

For more info, email

By clicking Submit users are agreeing to follow the Terms of Service
comments powered by Disqus

Most Popular Stories