Vivian’s Hat
By Derek McDermott

I don’t even want this hat. Truthfully, I hate the damn thing. At the same time, I love what it stands for but I hate that it exists. See, I didn’t buy this pink hat for myself. I bought it for someone near and dear to my heart that was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer. I bought the hat for her and told her that I’d wear it while I coached; a way to show support and bring awareness to her battle. I also told her that when she beat cancer, she could take the hat for herself… but, unfortunately, I never got the chance to give it to her.

Vivian Dawson walked into my life, literally, in 2013. She was originally a member of CFR and when our owners opened a second location closer to her home, she moved to that gym. I was lucky enough to be a coach at that new location and thus spent a lot of time getting to know her. I got to see her spread her wings and take to Olympic Weightlifting like she was a born for it. After all, Vivian’s natural gift was strength, which she used to become a back to back national champion.  However, when Vivian was diagnosed with cancer in 2016, it was our time to be strong for her.

Truth be told, I don’t remember exactly what brought me to the Caffeine and Kilos website that day. Maybe I was shopping for myself, I’m not sure. However, I do remember the moment I stumbled upon their signature hat and how I noticed it had a color option with Pink lettering and a Pink logo. In a matter of seconds, my brain made a few connections that cemented my purchase.

Vivian's Hat

When it showed up on my doorstep, I quickly took a sharpie and with my childlike scribble, I wrote “#VivStrong” under the brim. I didn’t think much of it when I snapped a photo and posted it on Facebook, however, when I saw the reaction from Vivian, and mutual friends alike, I knew I needed to do more. My first thought was that’d id wear it every time I coached. That morphed into every time I would travel, I would bring “Vivian” with me and snap some photos to share with her. But I still yearned a greater impact. More and more people started asking about my hat since I was seemingly wearing it all the time. Many people loved the story, and then the idea came to me… I wanted a bunch of these “Vivian” hats out there! I envisioned an army of Pink Caffeine and Kilos hats with “VivStrong” emblazoned on the side of which I could sell to raise funds for Vivian’s care.

Through sheer luck, I was introduced to Charlie Zamora (then CEO of Caffeine and Kilos) by a fellow CrossFit coach (Big thanks to Keith!). Mr. Zamora got me in touch with folks at the company to whom I shared Vivian’s story and they offered to help. Through their generosity and kindness, I had 20 Caffeine and Kilos hats, identical to mine, delivered to my front door. I recently had them embroidered with “VivStrong” and I took the next step to forming my pink hat army.

Vivian's Hat

Sadly, Vivian is not here to witness this… however, EVERY PENNY from the sale of these 20 hats will go directly to continue her legacy. My goal is to donate $1,500 (20 hats at $75 each) to CT Weightlifting to fund a special project.  Starting with the Vivian Dawson Memorial Weightlifting Meet (10/1/17 at CrossFit Brickyard, South Windsor, CT), the Vivian Dawson Award will be given to the best female masters lifter at all sanctioned CT Weightlifting events going forward. Please support Vivian and her legacy by purchasing one of these hats in her honor.

Due to the very limited run of these embroidered hats, please email Derek McDermott at for availability. Hats will be sold for $75 and will be on a first come first serve basis. Thank you.
-Coach D