The Brains and Brawn Scholarship


The idea of stories is what sparked Kelly De Leon into co-founding the Brains and Brawn Scholarship.

As a co-owner of CrossFit Unlocked in Georgetown, Delaware, De Leon also works at the local high school. She sees students every day that she thinks would benefit from joining the gym.

In fact, De Leon has seen amazing transformations of students who have come to the Box. One student lost a total of 120 pounds and gained confidence to not only go to her first prom, but also join the Navy after high school.

“It just sparked an interest in myself and I’m like there’s so many stories probably like this across the United States, if not even the world, of other success stories,” explained De Leon. “We hear them all the time as adults, but there’s got to be other students.”

Through a series of events, De Leon teamed up with the Smiths at CrossFit Krypton who loved the idea of the scholarship. Together, they launched the website in the summer of 2016.

If a Box wants to participate, they would pay $100 each year. Any student from that Box can then apply for the scholarship. The amount of the scholarship is based on how many Boxes buy into it each year.

To apply for the scholarship, students must make a video and write a short essay about how CrossFit has changed their life and got them to where they are today.

De Leon explained she sees why the scholarship model might discourage some Boxes. “I think their thoughts are, ‘Why would I pay $100 and I might not have anybody that wins the scholarship?’” she said. “But the way I look at it from the business side of it is you take that information and you go to your local high school and you say to your guidance counselors and be like, ‘This is what my CrossFit has to offer kids at your school.’ If kids know there’s a scholarship out there, they will try to get it, so they might join that Box just to earn that scholarship.”

As for marketing, De Leon said she’s hung posters up about the scholarship at her high school and promotes it on her website.

But the goal of the scholarship goes beyond just winning money. De Leon said she sees all types of students at school, from those with family support to those without it. She explained the Box could be a place to give those students a family.

“The goal is to one get more students involved in CrossFit and let them see the benefit of having strong community support,” said De Leon. “Just to get more kids involved in it in general, and more Boxes involved in the scholarship and help them promote CrossFit to younger people. It doesn’t have to be for adults. It can be for students too, and not students that are already athletic.”

Heather is the editor for Box Pro Magazine. Contact her at