Pushup challenge draws attention to veteran suicide issue
Harold Anderson, left, leads a group of friends in pushups outside his restaurant Tuesday morning. The event is part of a pushup challenge to draw attention to veteran suicide.
Lisa Boykin Batts | Times
By Lisa Boykin Batts
Times Associate Editor
They took their challenge outside Tuesday morning — doing 22 pushups on the sidewalk in front of Big Harold’s Diner.
It was a quick exercise with a statement.
The organization 22KILL urged people to do 22 pushups to bring awareness to veteran suicide. Why the number 22? It’s estimated that 22 veterans commit by suicide each day — hence the name of the organization.
Those participating in the pushup challenge are urged to share a video of themselves doing the pushups.
Local attorney Rhyan Breen started the challenge on Nov. 7, pledging to do 22 pushups for 22 days to raise awareness of post-traumatic stress disorder in veterans and veteran suicide. He challenged a number of his friends to do the same over the next few days.
Each day for the last three weeks, Breen and his friends have shared videos on Facebook of themselves doing pushups by themselves, with their pets, children and grandchildren.
On Tuesday morning, they decided to do their pushup together with Harold Anderson, owner of Big Harold’s. After they finished, they went inside and shared breakfast.
Anderson has family and friends who have served in the military and wanted to do his part to raise awareness. Veterans have sacrificed so much, he said, and are often shunned.
“It’s a shame to watch these guys end up like they are.”
He hopes their small gesture with the pushups will spark an awareness.
“When Rhyan challenged me, it was a like a calling,” he said. “What else can I do? What can we do as a community and a nation?”
Breen’s father and brother are both veterans, so this issue is close to his heart as well, he said.