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Couple uses gym to help wounded Soldier

Published: 01:06PM December 20th, 2012

TACOMA, Wash. — It started with Jeff and Amanda Serven trying to raise $1,000.

Captain Edward “Flip” Klein and his wife, Jess, needed to get their dog across the country. Flip, who deployed with 4th Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, had suffered extensive injuries from an explosion and was hospitalized at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Maryland. His wife could make the trip to join him, but they needed the money to have their dog, which they doted on like a child, join them.

“(Jess) didn’t have a $1,000 just to drop on shipping a dog across the country,” said Jeff of Tacoma. “So we thought, ‘Oh, we can come up with that, for sure.’”

What they came up with was more than 30 times that amount. That’s just what they do for customers. There are a lot of reasons why they helped. The Servens run a gym in Tacoma for CrossFit and Olympic weightlifting that the Kleins started attending shortly before Flip deployed. He wanted to set his wife up in a good gym that would provide a community for Jess when he was gone. Jeff respected that kind of consideration from a Soldier and having served in the military, could relate to him. “It’s easy for me to talk to guys like Flip, you know what I mean, because practically my entire adult life has been deployments and things like that,” said Jeff, a former Navy SEAL.

“When members sign up here, we really try to get to know them on more of a personal level,” Amanda said. “It’s a place where people come and they know other people in the classes, they know their coaches.”

And the Servens had plenty of time to get to know Jess. Jeff said her goal was to “look good” before her husband returned. This became a passion that took up most of her time outside of work and sleeping.

“She’s a tough cookie,” Jeff said. “Basically the only thing she did was go to work, come here, go to sleep.”

All of this is why the Servens reacted to the news of Klein’s injury by trying to help. Having lived with the worry of a husband in harm’s way, a lot went through Amanda’s mind: thankfulness that her husband returned safely from his deployments and a sharper empathy for everyone with family injured in combat.

“When it’s somebody that you’ve worked out next to for so long, or you’ve gone through challenging workouts together, those CrossFit workouts, you get to know somebody in a little bit different way, and then you know when something like that happens to them or their family, it kind of brings it home for you,” she said.

They eventually decided to hold an exercise session on Nov. 10 in Klein’s honor, during which they accepted donations, and helped to create a website to receive money for him. Since donations far exceeded the amount needed to ship the dog, the Kleins are using some of the money to pay for family to visit them while they stay at the hospital.

There is uncertainty as to how much time the Servens will get to spend with their friends. Amanda said there is no guarantee that the two will return to the area since they do not have family here. “We would love to have them back with us,” she said.

Whether they come back or not, what inspired Jeff and Amanda to help the Kleins remains for everyone who comes to their gym. CrossFit, Jeff said, provides people with a way to improve their quality of life, and he gets to help them improve.

“I think everybody enjoys helping other people,” Jeff said. “I don’t know anyone that doesn’t.”

The Servens run Trident Athletics in Tacoma.