Niagara Gazette — Dennis Brochey could have never imagined what he was starting 10 years ago.
It was just a simple idea to help out the Town of Lewiston Recreation Department.
“The very first Red Brick Bench Press Championship was a fundraiser for the Lewiston Recreation Department to update their weight room,” Brochey recalled.
A weight lifter and athlete all his life, Brochey’s concept was to charge an entrance fee to competitors, gather a few sponsors and hold the event in the village’s Red Brick Schoolhouse. With 23 lifters participating, the event was a success and the town recreation department got it’s new equipment.
The story could have ended right there. But Brochey got another inspiration.
“I was reading the Gazette and there was a story about the (U.S.) troops (overseas) needing things and how their families here had to pay to ship them over,” he said. “So I decided to have a bench press fundraiser for (the military families).”
He approached the brass at the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station and asked them what they thought of the idea.
“I think they though it would be something nice,” Brochey said, “and maybe it would make a couple hundred dollars.”
With double the number of lifters that he had at the first competition, Brochey’s event raised much more than “a couple hundred dollars.” It’s only grown larger since then.
“People started getting wind of it and by the sixth year we were at 100 lifters and then this year we had 134,” Brochey said.
The event became so large that it had to find a new home at the Connecticut Street Armory in Buffalo. It now features over 100 sponsors and over the last decade has raised $90,000 to assist military families.
Brochey shakes his head and smiles, when a reporter asks if he ever thought the event would achieve that kind of success.