GALAX, Va. – When Carroll County Deputy Curtis Bartlett died in the line of duty two years ago, his family committed to honoring him and his love of fitness. A new gym in Bartlett's memory, Curtis Bartlett Fitness, is now open after years of fundraising.
"I am just overwhelmed with joy," said Sam Bartlett, Curtis' father. "I'm almost numb because of all of the work and activity that has led to this point."
The family, who owns and operates Curtis Bartlett Fitness, cut the ribbon on Friday. Curtis' brother, Caleb, said the gym fulfills the dream left deferred after Curtis died.
"We talked about opening up our own gym back in the day, and to see it finally happen is a crazy feeling," Caleb said.
The gym was once in danger of never opening. The original plans called for the gym to open in Galax High School, thanks to a $500,000 grant. But the grant money fell through, so the family decided to lease what was Twin County Regional Healthcare's wellness center and transform it into the gym it desired.
"The dream kind of died, but then it was resurrected better than before," Sam Bartlett said.
The gym features many reminders of the fallen deputy. A portrait of Bartlett in full uniform stands at the entrance, and some of Bartlett's old equipment is available to use. Bartlett was an Army veteran, and the room containing his fitness equipment is adorned with a flag Bartlett brought home from Iraq.
"It's kind of a way to grieve," Caleb Bartlett said. "Everyone grieves differently but when I see that picture, it pumps me up more than it makes me sad."
The Bartletts said they are already proud of the legacy Curtis left behind, and are hopeful for how the new fitness center will build on it.
"Curtis' death has purpose if, because of that, more and more people's lives are changed," Sam Bartlett said. "His vision now is stronger than it ever was."