April 24, 2014

Pushups to Empower: York's Silent Salute to Veterans

By Mark Macyk | LaxMagazine.com | Twitter

 

What started as 22 pushups from the York women's lacrosse team has turned into more than $16,000 raised to help veterans. (York College)

The athletic teams at York College are helping raise awareness of a silent American epidemic, 22 pushups at a time.

According to the U.S Department of Veterans Affairs, 22 veterans commit suicide each day. It’s a sobering statistic that resonated with York women’s lacrosse midfielder Allison Bove.

“You see tons of veterans on the street with the signs, ‘Veterans Homeless: Please Help,’ and you hear about veterans and suicide, but I never would have imagined it was this high,” Bove said. “They’re taking the time to serve and protect us. I feel like we’re obligated to protect them when they’re done.”

Thanks in part to Bove, the Spartans are helping to do just that. The Spartans have become champions for #22Kill, an initiative of Honor Courage Commitment, a nonprofit started by veterans, for veterans, to provide assistance finding jobs, starting business, going back to school, and ultimately, to keep veterans from getting to the point where suicide becomes an option. 

Any time a member meets a veteran, out of respect, they drop and do 22 pushups. Symbolizing their silent salute, members wear black rings on their trigger fingers to honor the memory of fallen comrades. Through the organization’s 22 Pushup Challenge, the Hersh Foundation and partners will donate $100 for every video they receive of someone doing 22 pushups, until they reach the goal of $100,000. 

Thus far the teams at York have raised around $16,700 by doing pushups.

And it all started with an Instagram post. Bove saw a request from a friend in the marines asking for videos of people doing 22 pushups. She complied, sent one over and soon became inspired.

“‘I said, “Hey, this is easy,’’” Bove said. “‘I’m going to get all the teams at York to do it.’”

And so it went. Twenty-eight women’s lacrosse players and 42 more on the men’s team. The soccer team had 28 members complete the task, as did the wrestling team, who did their sets with their feet on each other's backs. Soon the baseball team and the men’s and women’s basketball teams followed suit.

The videos kept pouring in, despite the fact that Bove’s initial request was met with a healthy dose of skepticism from her lacrosse teammates.

“They said ‘I don’t know if I can do 22 pushups.’” Bove said. “I said, ‘I promise it’s not that hard.’ And when you’re yelling ‘Down,’ screaming in each other’s face, ‘One, down, Two, down,’ and everybody’s coming up and you’re just cranking it out, you say, ‘It’s not bad at all, we can keep going.’”

It also wasn't that bad when they realized what 22 pushups could mean. Bove soon reached out to the foundation, wondering if they’d reached their $100,000 goal. They told her to keep the videos coming. So she has started to think bigger.

“I texted all my friends who are at schools with big football teams,” Bove said. “Friends at USC and UConn. ‘Hey get your football team to do this.’”

And while the effort has spread far beyond Central Pennsylvania, it’s not as if they’re done raising money at York. Far from it. Supporting the troops is becoming a year-round cause for the Spartans.

“The team started asking ‘What else can we do?’” Bove said. “‘That was too easy.’”

The women’s lacrosse team made camouflage t-shirts featuring the York College Spartan logo and the #22kill hashtag. Bove reached out to York’s student athletic representative committee, who said next year the shirts could be the department’s big fundraiser. 

“It hits close to home now that I have friends in the service,” Bove said. “The foundation really helps them get back on their feet.”

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York College students made the documentary above chronicling the lacrosse teams efforts with #22kill and the 22 Pushup Challenges. 

Click the links for more information on how to contribute to Honor Courage Commitment and #22Kill. Pushups are optional.


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