Customer Story

Barbells for Boobs & Classy: How to Inspire a Community to Action

Barbells for Boobs® was born in a parking lot with music blaring and some heavy lifting. When Zionna Hanson, the founder of Barbells for Boobs, raised $4,000 to support her friend diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 26, she saw the potential for the CrossFit® and fitness communities to unite and address gaps in our healthcare system, specifically for women under the age of 40, and men.

Barbells for Boobs believes Everyone Has a RIGHT to Know™ if they are living with cancer. Their impact to social change has resulted in 30,194 procedures provided, 199 cases of breast cancer detected, and 16,442 individuals served.

How One Person’s Story Exposed a Flaw in the System

When 26-year-old Cecy Morales found a lump on her breast, her doctors told her to come back at the age of 40. Six months later, she returned to insist on a breast screening and was diagnosed with breast cancer.

At the time of Cecy’s diagnosis, best friend Zionna Hanson was running a CrossFit gym. As a leader in her close-knit community, Zionna was a large proponent of being proactive about how we approach and manage our own healthcare. When Cecy shared her story with Zionna, it spurred Zionna to research the resources available to young women like Cecy. She quickly discovered two things:

  1. It is difficult for men and women under the age of 40 to access early detection measures.
  2. Few tangible ways exist for people to show support for their loved ones who face a cancer diagnosis.

Today, Barbell for Boobs’ vision addresses this twofold need with a twofold solution. Their fundraising model not only fills the gap in the healthcare system for underserved demographics, it also provides a tangible way for supporters to get involved and express their support and personal experiences.

I remember a guy came up to me and said, ‘My wife is a breast cancer survivor and I’ve never been able to do something for me to get through this.’”

Zionna Hanson Photo

Zionna Hanson

Founder & CEO, Barbells for Boobs

By focusing on early detection, Barbells for Boobs fills the gap that Cecy’s story revealed in the healthcare system and provides potentially lifesaving support.

How Partnerships Fuel Their Success

To better understand how their organization fit into an individual’s experience with breast cancer, Barbells for Boobs sought out best practices from others in and out of the space. They knew that to best serve those in need, they should focus on the gap they’d identified in Detection and partner with other organizations working in Prevention and Survivorship.

In addition to partnering with other breast cancer organizations, Barbells for Boobs wasn’t afraid to reach outside the space for help and invest in systems that positioned them to scale. They knew that in order to truly reap the full benefits from a partnership, they needed to dedicate time and resources to integrate not just those relationships, but also the right technologies into their culture and the way they operate.

We wouldn’t be who we are or where we are today without a system like Classy. Having systems like that that back your vision–they’re priceless…If you’re not leveraging the full use of those systems, you’re wasting time, money, and energy. It’s about time and commitment and patience with that system and your culture–and then bringing that system into your culture.”

Zionna Hanson Photo

Zionna Hanson

Founder & CEO, Barbells for Boobs

Barbells for Boobs’ culture of openness to collaboration is a mentality that has enabled them to scale and grow. With partners like Classy and Salesforce, their organization is well-equipped to engage their community in ways that are informed, personal, and convenient.

How Common Ideologies Unite Different Communities

At first glance, the average person may not have guessed the connections between the CrossFit and cancer-fighting communities.

Zionna knew CrossFit community loved three things:

  • Results
  • T-shirts
  • Family

Though seemingly lighthearted, these insights were powerful drivers behind building a connection between the CrossFit and breast cancer detection communities.

CrossFitters constantly work to improve themselves. To eat, sleep, lift, and live better lives that recognize incremental progress and success. They’re proud community members who like to share that pride with others around them.

The mental fortitude of CrossFit and the love from the health-conscious and proactive community inspired Zionna to mobilize their support. To start, her team placed an emphasis on data and results in their communications and sought to make people feel like fundraising for their organization made them part of the Barbells for Boobs movement.

But beyond the T-shirts and gyms decorated in pink across the nation, what helped supporters feel like they could truly make a difference and voice their passion— CrossFit enthusiast or not—was their ability to peer-to-peer fundraise. With the Classy platform, Barbells for Boobs empowers people to show support for those fighting breast cancer by utilizing their networks to raise funds for the cause. To stay connected with this community, the organization uses the Classy platform to not only accept donations, but also to interact with supporters and collect data to inform their communication strategy and future touch points.

Now, thanks to their peer-to-peer fundraisers, Barbells for Boobs is ready to continue to grow and transcend boundaries. What started as local CrossFit gyms coming together quickly became gyms across the nation—and now across the world—rallying around their cause. Support has already started to pour in from other communities outside of CrossFit. In fact, Barbells for Boobs has the potential to capture the support and involvement of anyone interested in not just proactive and preventative healthcare, but also in becoming the best versions of themselves.

How Focus and Collaboration Helped Barbells for Boobs Build an Army

Barbells for Boobs recognizes that there’s only one way to solve a global epidemic: together. To address the bigger problem and affect social change, they’ve established partnerships with likeminded organizations that will enable them to focus on early detection and share preventative lifestyle choices, all the while operating as a piece in the larger initiative to eradicate the disease.

But in order to make systemic change, Barbells for Boobs must step outside of the healthcare world and enter an arena of politicians and state and federal representatives. With their ever-growing supporter base, they also aspire to make a global impact. Barbell for Boobs currently has active fundraisers in 14 countries and they’re now working to launch Barbells for Boobs Australia before the end of 2016.

To scale their organization for this global expansion, they’ve relied on the involvement of the CrossFit community and established several strategic partnerships, such as their investment in Classy’s services. When Zionna saw that Classy was willing to grow and innovate with them, she realized the investment wasn’t in just buying a platform; it was an investment in a support system that would help them strategically expand and achieve their mission.

Classy makes it really easy to globally expand your brand, your mission, and your cause…we can take this technology anywhere in the world and it will help us create change—it’s a no-brainer to me.”

Zionna Hanson Photo

Zionna Hanson

Founder & CEO, Barbells for Boobs

Barbells for Boobs succeeds because they:

  • Aren’t afraid to ask for help
  • Remain cognizant of how they fit into the larger picture
  • Focus on what they know how to do well
  • Work to identify strategic relationships in and out of their space
  • Acknowledge what motivates people and brings them together
  • Work to address the larger issues around the problem

Barbells for Boobs’ investments in scalable technologies and infrastructure, collaborative strategies, and community values are what poise them to expand their initiative across the globe.

“I want to make sure everyone—seriously everyone—has a right to know.” – Zionna