Buzzo Launches Fitness Club’s Youth Powerlifting Program
Fitness Club Merritt Island Hosts Powerlifting Contest to Benefit ‘Who We Play For’
BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – Frank Buzzo, Merritt Island’s Miracle Man, is at it again.
The 71-year-old world-champion powerlifter is very, very lucky to be alive, given that his heart came to a screeching halt July 18, after Buzzo attempted to lift 425 pounds at the Fitness Club of Merritt Island.
It didn’t go well but thankfully all ended well.
“On July 18,2022, my life was changed forever due to cardiac arrest and I was given another chance at life,” Buzzo explained.
The 6-foot-one, 265-pound Buzzo had rightfully earned the nickname Big Frank, but 425 pounds was too much to life at his age, even for Big Frank, and he collapsed on the gym floor, not breathing and without a pulse.
Fortunately, Frank was among quick-thinking friends at the Fitness Club. Owner Lou Manley has two automated external defibrillators, or AEDs, available at all times at the facility and all his staff are trained in CPR and basic life support.
Team member Manny Shaw immediately connected Frank with one of the defibrillators as Frank’s buddy, Erik Johnson, helped. Retired firefighter and practicing nurse Dana Allen happened to be exercising at the Club that day, and Dana also provided assistance in precious seconds that kept Buzzo alive.
Thanks to the three angels – as Frank calls Manny, Erik and Dana – Frank was conscious and breathing by the time the emergency team from the Sheriff’s Office and EMS arrived.
Security camera footage from the incident tells a story of a well-loved and respected man. The gym was packed that day, yet when Frank went into cardiac arrest, the more than 100 members exercising reacted in unison by going on their knees to pray for him.
By August last year, Frank was back at the Fitness Club several times a week, although he knows not to try any heavy lifting. Instead, he is helping the next generation of weightlifters through the Fitness Club’s Youth Powerlifting Program, which he helped launch.
“He is grateful and wants to give back,” said Manley. “We never had this kind of program before Frank.”
For Frank, giving back means sharing his time and expertise with high school weightlifters.
“Unless he is out of town, you will see him at the gym helping the kids,” Manley said.
Even when he is out of town, Frank is usually helping his students, since he is a constant at their weightlifting competitions, in town and out.
“I have the pleasure of working with a great group of kids that are dedicated to being the best that they can be and I am very proud of them, their dedication and accomplishments,” said Frank.
“I am grateful to give back the 40 years of knowledge in powerlifting that God has blessed me with. I truly believe working with these kids is what God has called me to do.”
Buzzo explains that the young men he is training are gaining not just physical strength.
“Powerlifting helps build self-esteem and character as well,” he said.
In addition to his time and talent, Buzzo also gave of his treasure, for months funding competition entry fees, powerlifting gear and traveling expenses of his students in the Youth Powerlifting Program from his own pockets until sponsors 4Ever Young med spa and anti-aging clinic and Space Coast Daily stepped in with an assist.
He and his team can use more help, since the team will be participating in the High School Nationals in North Carolina this October.
“We are trying to raise money to enable our kids to compete,” said Buzzo.
While Big Frank’s powerlifting days are over, he continues to lift up his students, helping them realize their goals and dreams.
“It’s a natural fit,” Manley said. “He is able to pass on his years and years of knowledge to the kids and he can still come to the gym.”
The Fitness Club of Merritt Island’s Youth Powerlifting Program welcomes tax-deductible donations. Checks can be made to Fitness Club Youth Powerlifting Program and mailed or delivered to 1450 N. Courtenay Pkwy., Suite 15, Merritt Island, FL 32953. For more information, call 321-305-5870.