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Get a grip! Arms race benefits charity

Women flex muscles to raise money for NW housing group


by: PHOTO BY JAIME VALDEZ - Jody Schreffler, left, and Michelle Lesniak Franklin go head to head in a practice session at The Warrior Room.She faced down Heidi Klum and Michael Kors on national television, and emerged as the Season 11 winner of “Project Runway.” But now an event in Milwaukie will pit Michelle Lesniak Franklin against Pain Fonda, Payne Mansfield and maybe Captain Man Hands in a women’s arm wrestling for charity on Saturday afternoon.

“I’m kind of terrified,” Lesniak Franklin says. “I usually only lift bolts of fabric.”

She agreed to do the event because it allows her to give back to the community in a “really fun, whimsical, loud and brash way,” she says.

The big question is what Lesniak Franklin will wear, and she is happy to report she will be decked out in a shredded T-shirt of her own design, featuring a saucy kitty. To enhance her ‘80s rock band metal style, she also will wear acid-washed tight jeans

The event, called “Honey Badgers and Cobras,” will benefit Milwaukie’s Northwest Housing Alternatives, a nonprofit organization, providing safe and affordable homes to more than 2,500 Oregonians. The Annie Ross House, part of the organization, is the only whole-family shelter in Clackamas County. It houses five families, with five transitional units nearby, along with two units of permanent housing.

The event takes place at The Warrior Room, a kettlebell-exclusive studio in downtown Milwaukie, owned by brother-sister team Luke and Ashley Jensen. They and their clients have participated in fundraisers for Northwest Housing Alternatives, and they opted to host this event to bring people to Milwaukie and “see how wonderful the community is,” Ashley Jensen says.

by: PHOTO BY JAIME VALDEZ - Lesniak Franklin prepares to lay the hammer down.The actual idea for the arm-wrestling event came from Warrior Room client Jody Schreffler, who wrestles as Pain Fonda. The Milwaukie resident says she realized that, “The Warrior Room is a small business, very limited in donating financially, but we could give back by donating the space, creating buzz for a fun event and donating all the proceeds.”

Schreffler chose the name Honey Badgers and Cobras “as a playful reference for a not-hardcore arm-wrestling event. It’s a bracket-style tournament where the small and bad girls, the Honey Badgers, will be randomly paired off with the big and bad girls, the Cobras.”

By chance, Schreffler discovered there is a hot sauce called Hon ey Badgers and Cobras, and that company has donated some of its sauces to be used as prizes.

Fun and competition

by: PHOTO BY JAIME VALDEZ - Jody Schreffler hefts a kettlebell.The whole day will be fun, Schreffler says, noting that in addition to the competition, a professional photographer will host a live photo booth, and a masseuse and acupuncturist will be on hand charging $5 for 15-minute sessions. Several local restaurants will serve food at the event, and donate 10 percent of the proceeds to Northwest Housing Alternatives.

“We are charging general admission — $5 before the event or $10 at the door — and more expensive VIP seating will be available with drink service around the arena,” Schreffler says.

About 25 women have signed on to meet competitors in hand-to-hand combat, and anyone interested may still sign up. Many of the participants work out at The Warrior Room, and have been training for this event by taking a class called “super sexy arms,” says Lauren Drury, an Oak Grove resident.

She has been doing pushups and bicep curls to train, and because she is 14 weeks pregnant, her wrestling name is Pregasaurus.

In addition to Project Runway winner Lesniak Franklin, Daria Eliuk, the host of “The Buzz” on 105.1 FM, will wrestle as Payne Mansfield, wearing “something tight, shiny and entirely inappropriate for the event,” she says.

“My previous arm-wrestling experience stems exclusively from my pre-teen and early teen years, when I was stronger than the boys and thought they would be impressed and want to give me kisses when I trounced them in front of their friends,” she says. (The technique was not effective).

Eliuk wanted to be part of the arm-wrestling event, “because nothing is better than being in the company of strong, dynamic women. When helping the community, it’s wonderful to gather as a community. It’s the type of thing where people enter as strangers and leave as friends.”

Schreffler wants people to get something more from the event than just showing up, having fun and supporting Northwest Housing Alternatives.

“I hope events like this inspire people to think outside the box about how they might contribute to the community,” she says.