Fitness marathon to honor memory of slain rugby player

Bowling Green State University student and rugby player Tom Forbrizzio, 21, stretches at the university's rugby field.
Bowling Green State University student and rugby player Tom Forbrizzio, 21, stretches at the university's rugby field.

BOWLING GREEN - Tom Forbrizzio is pushing his body to its limits to honor the memory of a slain friend and help his family in South Africa bear the financial costs associated with his death.

Mr. Forbrizzio, 21, a senior at Bowling Green State University and a member of the school's rugby club, began a 24-hour "endurance workout" yesterday afternoon as a fund-raiser for the family of Roan Gouws, a teammate who was shot to death in January during a robbery in South Africa.

Mr. Forbrizzio planned to bike 100 miles, run 10 miles, do 3,000 sit-ups, lift a total of 280,000 pounds, and perform other exercises during his round-the-clock workout, which was to last until 2 p.m. today.

Other than time for restroom and refreshment breaks, he planned to keep his body moving the entire time.

"The reason that I do all this stuff is because I can, because I have the opportunity," he said. "Obviously, Roan, he'll never have the opportunity to do something like this again. A lot of people just aren't as advantaged. It's really just about teaching myself a life lesson."

Mr. Forbrizzio said he was devastated by the death of Mr. Gouws, who played and coached for the rugby squad for about a year while living in Bowling Green.

"When I heard about him getting killed, the first feeling I had ... was this feeling of helplessness, and it's just a terrible feeling," he said.

"I wanted to spread the word about what happened, what kind of guy Roan was, because he was a great guy."

According to the Star, a newspaper in Johannesburg, Mr. Gouws, 24, and a companion were attacked after leaving a cricket match in the city of Pretoria on Jan. 21. Mr. Gouws was shot twice in the stomach and died early the next day in a hospital, the newspaper said.

Mr. Forbrizzio said Mr. Gouws' parents are struggling to pay medical bills from surgery done in an attempt to save his life.

Besides his marathon exercise session, Mr. Forbrizzio and his teammates have sponsored benefit concerts and other fund-raisers to help the family.

"We hope to be able to cover a significant amount of the hospital costs, and we're pretty confident that we'll be able to," he said.

Besides a desire to do something for his friend's parents, Mr. Forbrizzio said he has always been interested in fitness and seeing how much his body could do. Some of the other exercises he planned to do included 1,100 push-ups, 1,100 jumping jacks, 1,000 leg lifts, and a five-mile power walk.

He said if he completed all his scheduled exercises, he'd break the Guinness world record for doing the most exercise in 24 hours.

"A week after I heard what happened to Roan, I started training specifically for this," he said. "I changed my diet, ran almost every day, weightlifted, and did exercises."

Mr. Forbrizzio said that even if he falls short of his goal, he'll be satisfied with his effort.

"I know, either way, it's still a great cause, and I still did a lot of great things."

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