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In Memory Of A Weightlifter

Charity bench-press contest

to honor Dom O’Neill

On June 16, at approximately 3:14 a.m., 25-year-old Dominick O’Neill’s life was tragically taken in a car accident.  O’Neill was traveling westbound on the Southern State Parkway when his vehicle veered off the road into a tree. His car caught fire and he was pronounced dead at the hospital.  

O’Neill, a local and beloved weightlifter who is better known as “Big Dom,” impacted many. To show their appreciation, friends and family will gather on August 4 at Gaglione Strength Gym in Farmingdale for the “Dom O’Neill American Girth Charity Bench Press.”

John Gaglione, owner of Gaglione Strength in Farmingdale, is opening the doors to host this event in m O’Neill’s memory. Gaglione Strength is one of the premier spots on Long Island for powerlifting, which was O’Neill’s specialty. Gaglione didn’t personally know O’Neill, but took the story to heart on hearing of O’Neil’s passing.

“It is a tragic event, especially when it’s such a young kid,” Gaglione said. “All donations are going to the family and anything we make during the event is going to them. Even though he never competed, he was still a legend and a big part of this group of powerlifting.”

O’Neill, who graduated from Lindenhurst High School in 2006 and played Division I All County football during his senior year, was praised for his gift of weightlifting. Friends expressed astonishment that he could bench press over 500 lbs. and deadlift 600 lbs. But O’Neill’s care for others and his humble personality outweighed the weights.

“Being the strongest person in the gym was not even half as impressive as his persona. He was a loveable giant—never cocky about his God-given human strength,” recalled Rob Gurino Burns, O’Neill’s best friend and lifting partner for years.  He was more concerned with how his gym partners were feeling, both mentally and physically.  You could have been having the worst day, but as soon as you ran into Dom, all your negative thoughts and feelings disappeared.”

Friends explained the amazing things O’Neill did in the gym couldn’t compare to what he did outside of it. “Dominick did amazing things in the gym—more than I have ever seen anybody else do—but the most amazing things he has ever done for me were outside the gym,” said Vin Inzirillo, a mentor and close friend to O’Neill. “Dominick was a true family person, completely and utterly all the way to the bone. I had only known Dominick for a few years, yet I would trust him with the lives of my children. And that to me is the true barometer of the type of person he was.”

O’Neill, Burns, and Inzirillo lived by the weightlifting term, “girth.” At first it was a playful joke in the squad, a set of specific rules and requirements that had to be followed in order to workout with them. Several years ago, when the squad worked out at the Fitness 2000 in Old Bethpage, they would jokingly throw a penalty flag at any violations in the gym that didn’t follow their rules. It was all in good fun, but as time went on, girth developed a stronger meaning between the three. Girth became the meaning to their friendship, something that they all created together. “It was three guys that loved to get together in the gym, work hard, and laugh the whole time,” Inzirillo said. “Our squad, our crew, our world: Girth for eternity.”

The Girth Charity Bench Press competition at Farmingdale’s Gaglione Strength begins at 3 p.m. Registration is closed, but spectators are welcome to attend.

Friends of O’Neill showed their excitement over this event knowing that it is for a great cause. “This competition is about coming together to celebrate Dom’s life and the impact he made on others during his short tenure here on earth,” said Michael DeCicco, a close friend who looked up to O’Neill. “Dom always loved to be with the guys, [but] he wasn’t much of a partier, so his social gathering was around the bench press.” O’Neill’s friends agree that a weight-lifting competition is a perfect way to honor a guy for whom the bench press was a get-away.