“Matthew Shepard”

OutWOD Memorial WOD

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  • 10 Rounds for Time
  • 12 Front Squats (135/95 lb)
  • 9 Weighted Pull-Ups (35/25 lb)
  • 8 Handstand Push-Ups

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namesake photo
OutWOD created this memorial WOD for Matthew Shepard who died on October 12, 1998, after he was kidnapped, robbed, and beaten in a hate crime.

Matthew Shepard was born in Wyoming on December 1, 1976. In 1998, he moved to Laramie and enrolled at the University of Wyoming, his parents’ alma mater, because he felt that living in a small town would help him feel safe. As a 21-year-old freshman, Shepard studied political science and international relations and wanted to pursue a Foreign Service career. Known to be polite, thoughtful and a great conversationalist, Shepard quickly became active on campus and joined the university’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) student alliance.

Just a few months after arriving in Laramie, on October 6, 1998, Shepard encountered Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson at a local pub. In the early hours of October 7th, the pair lured him away from the bar and drove him to a rural area where they tied him to a split-rail fence, beat him severely with the butt of a .357 Smith & Wesson pistol, and left him to die in the near-freezing temperatures of the early morning hours.

McKinney later stated he assumed Shepard was dead when they left. Shepard was discovered 18 hours later by a bicyclist, Aaron Kreifels, who at first thought he was a scarecrow. Still alive but in a coma, Shepard was rushed to Poudre Valley Hospital in Fort Collins, Colorado. For four days, Shepard lay comatose in a hospital bed.

In addition to numerous bruises, welts, and lacerations, Shepard’s brain stem was severely damaged and he also was suffering from hypothermia. He was pronounced dead at 12:53 A.M. on October 12, 1998. Shortly after, police found the bloody gun as well as Shepard's shoes and wallet in McKinney’s truck. McKinney and Henderson were arrested and were convicted of felony murder and kidnapping. Both received two consecutive life terms.

Shepard’s memorial service was attended by over 700 people, including friends and family from around the world. Also present were notorious protestors from the Westboro Baptist Church, including Fred Phelps himself, who picketed the funeral with homophobic signs. To combat their bigotry, Shepard’s friend Romaine Patterson organized a group, now called #AngelAction, to block the protestors by wearing white robes and large angelic wings.
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