MIDDLETOWN—County Executive Steven Neuhaus arrived at Twin Towers Middle School in Middletown on April 11 to do the #22 Pushups Challenge.
Kyle Roddey, the U.S. History teacher at the school and also the Mayor of Goshen, invited Neuhaus who got down and did 22 pushups to honor vets.
Eighth graders donated about 400 food items that Christian Farrell, director of the county Veterans Service Agency, collected for the Orange County Veterans food pantry. The pantry delivers food every week to veterans at their homes.
The students had listened to Neuhaus in January talk about the difficulties veterans face when they return from active duty, such as homelessness and lack of sufficient food. The students responded.
Moved by January’s presentation, the students started a food drive for local vets. Neuhaus decided to join Farrell to pick up the items and asked the students to participate with them in the #22 pushups challenge.
“I’m impressed that they took the initiative to collect food for local veterans, but it doesn’t surprise me,” Neuhaus said.
The #22 pushups challenge to honor those who serve raises awareness for veteran suicide prevention, and is the brainchild of the organization 22KILL. Approximately 22 military veterans commit suicide each day, according to the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs. This alarming statistic is the origin of the 22KILL’s name.
The organization’s goal with the push up challenge is to reach a total of 22 million push ups, and groups around the country have begun accepting the challenge. A video was shot of the student’s pushups and posted on Facebook so that they could be tabulated on the official #22 pushups challenge website, www.22kill.com.
“The students themselves decided they wanted to organize a food drive for veterans,” Roddey said. “County Executive Neuhaus coming to Twin Towers to do the #22pushups challenge with the students was a great addition. We are all proud that our students were a part of this.”
“Unfortunately, all veterans of war are susceptible to suicide,” Farrell said. “It’s a serious problem, but initiatives such as the #22 pushups challenge to honor those who serve help bring attention to this serious issue.”
The group did approximately 1,600 pushups. “The Twin Towers students participated with excitement and enthusiasm. It was great to spend some time with them this morning,” Farrell said, himself a vet. “We appreciate everything they have done to bring attention to issues that veterans face.”
Neuhaus and Farrell were joined by local veterans Chief Warrant Officer Alan Mack and Cullen Lyons. Mack is a decorated U.S. Army helicopter pilot. He was deployed in Afghanistan and Iraq and is now attached to the second aviation unit at West Point.
Lyons was a member of the U.S. Army National Guard from 2009-15, serving a tour in Afghanistan.
The #22 Pushups Challenge brings awareness to the difficulties veterans face when returning home and those who fall victim to suicide.”22KILL works to raise awareness to the suicide epidemic that is plaguing our country,” according to the group’s website, “and educate the public on mental health issues such as PTSD.”
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