Morgantown community rallies together for Jeff Giosi’s family after an unexpected death

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MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – When someone dies, their friends and family usually rally together to show their support and keep their memory alive.

That is the case, and more, with the recent death of Jeff Giosi. He was the owner of CrossFit Morgantown and passed away on Jan. 23, 2021, from a genetic aortic aneurysm. Giosi was 40 years old and he leaves behind two young sons, Arlen (3) and Mackie (1), and a loving wife who said her husband was a multifaceted man.

Giosi with his wife and sons

“Jeff was, in appearance, just this strong, incredible force and he was very theatrical and he was full of energy and he was just sort of like all-encompassing,” Sarah Giosi said. “And I say in appearance because that was absolutely what was happening internally. But internally also, he was so compassionate and so tender and so loving. And so what a lot of people may have seen at a first glance, it didn’t take more than minutes of actually getting to know him or talking to him to see that in minutes there is something deeper and something else.”

It didn’t take more than minutes of a stranger interacting with her husband for them to realize that he “authentically and genuinely” cared, Giosi said.

Sarah Gioisi (left) and Kent McBride (right) in CrossFit Morgantown

She wasn’t the only one who thought that. One of Giosi’s closest friends, Kent McBride, said he meant a lot of things to a lot of people. That is why, McBride said, it is so hard to describe what kind of man his friend was.

“How do you, in a short time, say who Jeff was,” McBride said. “It’s impossible. But if I had to put it into a short sentence, it would be Jeff was this living dichotomy of how can you be a man who is so strong, so powerful, so gritty, but yet also have this wonderfully sensitive, passionate, romantic side and just — he was somebody who loved people so fully, so unconditionally, anyone who ever met him is changed because of it.”

McBride couldn’t be more right about the kind of love people felt for Giosi. Just a day after his death, Kristen Miller, a long time member of CrossFit Morgantown, created a GoFundMe page for his family.

The purpose of Miller’s page is to raise $200,000 because “sadly, no life insurance was in place”, she wrote on the GoFundMe page.

The fundraiser had surpassed $120,000 as of Tuesday night and both McBride and Giosi said they were stunned.

“It’s awesome,” McBride said. “The money is great and will be extremely helpful to make Arlen, Mackie and Sarah are taken care of.”

Giosi said she was surprised and amazed by the endeavor.

“I didn’t know that the GoFundMe had already been set up until it was already set up and it was already going,” Giosi said. “And then I have had a lot of things that have been focusing on and I didn’t even open it or look at it.”

What Giosi didn’t leave in terms of financial help, he more than compensated for in terms of the overall support his wife and two sons will have. His wife said she has had help every step of the way.

“He made sure we had amazing community,” she said. “Clearly so many people loved him, I am surrounded, nobody feels less alone than me right now. But some of those of very real-world logistical things like how I’m going to deal with funeral and medical bills, knowing that other people took that on before I even start to go there — it’s been taken care of is such a blessing.”

Giosi said she cannot thank people enough and express the amount of shock she has experienced from the outpouring of love and support. McBride said seeing this kind of love shown to his family would have made his friend proud.

McBride and Giosi talking to other friends in CrossFit Morgantown

“He really values and appreciates the outpouring of love and he wants his kids to, more than anything, know who he was as a person, what he stood for and help them grow up to be the men he wanted to be,” McBride said. “The outpouring of compassion and stories and memories would be incredibly valuable to him.”

The compassion, McBride said, won’t end in a matter of days, weeks, or even months. Instead, he said it will go on indefinitely because he and Giosi were so close they had an understanding each other’s families would be taken care of, if one were to pass away.

In fact, that was an arrangement not just between Giosi and McBride, but all their close friends.

Giosi’s wife said knowing this alleviated some of the stress she was having over a recurring thought.

“The thought that my boys are going to be the kids in school that people say ‘why don’t you have a dad’, she said. “We talked about it and my boys are going to be the kids in school that say ‘wow why do you have 20 dads’. Because of the friendship that Jeff and Kent formed and then they have expanded into other friendships and other people and members of my family and just that brotherhood is the word that Jeff formed. Jeff was known for forming just such unities and a brotherhood that I know that my boys will have plenty of father figures and there will never be a father-son event that I wouldn’t be able to have somebody step in on and be a part of.”

Managing to create a network of support like this was in part due to the way Giosi lived, McBride said. He lived by and preached the motto “to love as if each day was you last but dream as if you’re going to live forever”.

Giosi’s phoenix insignia in CrossFit Morgantown, right next to the American flag

“And gosh, he lived that,” McBride said.

Because he lived what he preached, Giosi’s family will want for nothing because there will be a team of people looking out for them.

“We are going to have this with us and in us and we are going to move forward with this experience in a way that — Jeff was all about the phoenix it’s going to be about us rising from the ashes as an entire community,” Giosi said.

You can visit the ‘Jeff Giosi Memorial Fund’ if you would like to donate in honor of the man and or just as a means to support his family.

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