March 12, 2013
Giving His All: Jesse Disch
By Robin Runyan

“We never imaged that a fitness community could be so loving ... CrossFitters are so much more than a group of people who love to workout ... CrossFitters are part of a family and one that we are truly blessed to be in.”


Two days after Jesse Disch finished fourth at the 2012 North West Regional, the unthinkable happened.

Disch and his wife, Michelle, put down their two-month-old son, Benson, in their bed after feeding him. They went to dress and feed their other three children for the day. When Michelle went back to check on Benson, she found him face down, lifeless in bed.

Disch, a firefighter, started CPR while Michelle called 9-1-1. A neighbor took their kids so they wouldn’t have to see their father do CPR on their little brother. When the fire department showed up to take over, he and Michelle called their pastor and continued to pray. The medics worked to revive Benson for 20 minutes.

The medical examiners later found nothing medically wrong with Benson, and called it an unknown sudden death.

“Although that may not be enough closure for some, it was for us,” Disch says. “We knew that the reason he passed was that the Lord wanted Benson to come home to him in heaven. His reasoning, we may not understand now, but He promises that someday we will, when we, too, go up to heaven to be with our Savior and re-united with our son.”

Although Disch has always trained in his garage, while sometimes training at CrossFit Snohomish, he and Michelle were overwhelmed by the support of the CrossFit community in northern Washington.

“Several gyms from around the area and even out of the area, including Reebok sent us flowers, cards, WOD toys, Facebook messages, text messages, phone calls, gift certificates and money to help pay for expenses,” he says. “CrossFit Snohomish cooked us meals and Kirkland CrossFit even set up a fundraiser for our family to take a vacation to Disney World. Many of those people also attended Benson’s service.”

The Disch family was moved by the support.

“We never imaged that a fitness community could be so loving,” he says. “It was truly amazing. CrossFitters are so much more than a group of people who love to workout in an elite program; CrossFitters are part of a family and one that we are truly blessed to be in.”

After Benson passed away, it took Disch a few months to train again at the intensity he once had. At first, he did a 15-minute, every-minute-on-the-minute workout that he made himself do to at least get in and do something.

“I wasn't motivated, but I knew I needed to stay with it because I once loved training so much and I knew that I would again someday,” he says.

Disch’s biggest step was when he got back together with Jeff Vale of CrossFit Snohomish to work out once a week and started recording his workouts with him again. That got his competitive edge back.

“Jeff was really kind and gave me a key to his gym, so when my unheated garage gets too cold in the winter mornings, I can go to CrossFit Snohomish and workout in the heat,” he says. “I try to either workout before my kids wake up in the morning or when they are napping. That way I can spend the most amount of time with them as possible.”

Disch mostly follows the main site, but this year he’s added some CrossFit Invictus workouts, along with additional Olympic lifting and squatting. He doesn’t have a coach, so he uses coach’s cam to correct himself, and gets tips from Vale when they work out together.

”I have hit PRs in just about everything this year, so with all things considered, I feel like it has been good year of training.”

Disch’s CrossFit goals for this year are the same as last. One: Glorify the Lord. Two: Make it back to the Games. He competed in the 2011 Reebok CrossFit Games, finishing 29th.

He says he’s more focused on Regionals.

“I try not to put too much stress on the Open (workouts). I do them once and my goal is to be in the top quarter of the pack or higher when they are over, and then peak at Regionals."

He appears to be setting himself up well to getting a shot at goal No. 1, as Disch put up 176 reps on 13.1 and finished in 13th place in the North West Region.

The whole Disch family CrossFits, including their kids Maddison (4), Peyton (3) and Caleb (2). Since Disch works out in his garage, his kids see him work out and they join in.

“I have never taught them any movements, but the all know how to squat, snatch, clean, jerk, deadlift, thruster, lunge, burpee, push-up, press, pull-up, box jump, jump rope, kettlebell swing, row, run and now, wall climb,” he says. “They are sponges and most importantly they have a blast doing it.”

Michelle, who is pregnant and due this May, also does CrossFit. Disch says even though Michelle doesn’t love to work out, she has a great attitude.

“She gets complimented all the time at the store when she has our cart full of kids,” Disch says. “People never believe her when she says that the she is on her fifth pregnancy. The doctors are amazed each time we see them because of how well she has healed up from previous births and how strong the muscles are in her body for the upcoming one. I think people like her are what CrossFit is all about.”

One lesson the couple learned is to not to take life for granted.

“We were all given this wonderful life to live and, for most people reading this article, these amazing bodies to be able to do amazing feats with,” Disch says. “Don’t waste them. Give your all in everything you do. Whether it’s a WOD, a hobby, a friendship, loving your wife, your family, working at your job or doing your day-to-day activities — do them with your 100 percent best effort and attitude because you never know when it could all end.”