SOUTH GLENS FALLS, N.Y. (NEWS10) — South Glens Falls High School students and staff are partaking in the 22-a-day push-up challenge in February to raise awareness for the mental health of those who defend our country. South High Alum Dylan Stevens and his friends started the challenge in 2020, according to the school’s website.

“The 22-a-day push-up challenge started in 2020 when then senior Dylan Stevens approached me and his assistant principal at the time, Jason Belknap (himself a veteran of the Air Force) about bringing the challenge to South Glens Falls HS,” said South Glens Falls High School Principal Peter Mody. “We all thought it was a great idea and we had a variety of students and staff participate, mostly during lunches, that February which was really and truly facilitated by Dylan and his friends.  The following February, due to COVID restrictions and the hybrid schedule, it went on hiatus, but we brought it back last March.”

“The 22-a-day push-up challenge looks to raise awareness of the mental health struggles of those who defend our country and are willing to make the ultimate sacrifice to do so,” Mr. Mody continued.

“The significance of this number is that, on average, 22 active soldiers or veterans take their lives every day, largely due to the stress and trauma that comes from their time serving in the military,” Mr. Mody said. “This honors their willingness to bear the burden of service to protect the rights and freedoms that we enjoy every day.”

Of the 49 students, staff, and faculty who participated in the challenge last year, 22 completed the challenge, according to Mr. Mody, and current sophomore Logan Kibling was crowned the champion. Kibling, whose goal is to do 6,000 in February, commented on the challenge.

“When I first saw it, I wanted to bring awareness about the soldiers who harm themselves and all of us have to be aware of that because they fight for our country,” Kibling said. “I am coming back for my second year and I am excited to bring even more awareness of what soldiers go through.  It’s not good what they go through and I want to make sure people are aware of that as much as I can.  Anything that brings awareness of their situation is a good thing, I think.  Soldier mental health awareness matters.”

Mr. Mody also mentioned that all participants logged over 24,000 push-ups combined last year. The challenge kicks off on Wednesday with pre-registered students and also allows walk-ins for students to participate and catch up on the ones they’ve missed.