Pushing up awareness: Vassar club event supports veterans


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1 Life Fitness in Vassar sponsors a contest where one person wins a one-month membership to the club. Entrants take part by doing 22 push-ups. Club members or non-members have until April 13 to enter, and those supporting the cause include, from left, John Crump III, Trevor Betzing and Casey Hendricks. (Photo by John Cook)

VASSAR – Tina Bacon wasn’t thinking of impressing people when she did 22 push-ups to enter a contest promoting awareness of veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder.

“Obviously, I think of Travis Mills. You can’t help but think of Travis Mills,” said Bacon, 57, of Vassar, who did the push-ups this month at 1 Life Fitness in Vassar, which offers a one-month membership to the fitness club to one winner chosen from among those doing 22 push-ups.

Mills is a 2005 Vassar High School graduate and retired U.S. Army staff sergeant who lost portions of both legs and arms when an improvised explosive device blew up beneath him in Afghanistan.

“Travis graduated with my oldest son, Roger Bacon Jr.,” Bacon said. “I watched Travis grow up. He used to come to my house for birthday parties.”

In 2013, Mills founded the Travis Mills Foundation, a nonprofit organization, to help wounded and injured veterans.

“I’m married to a veteran – he did 20 years in the U.S. Navy,” said Bacon, wife of Vassar Mayor Roger Bacon.

“I have a lot of family members that served,” Tina Bacon said. “My brother-in-law (Bruce Paterson of Alabama) is a retired colonel in the Air Force. I have two brothers (Louis Pierce Jr. of Reese and Al Pierce of Arizona), who both served in the U.S. Army.”

Those wanting to enter the 22 Push-Ups Challenge at 1 Life Fitness may do so through April 13. The contest seeks to cast a spotlight on veterans with PTSD, said John Crump III, trainer and manager at 1 Life Fitness.

About 40 people had entered the drawing as of Monday, and participants – whether or not they belong to the fitness club – enter by coming to the club at 171 E. Huron Ave. and having an employee video-record them doing the push-ups.

“We don’t care if you can do 22 real push-ups or not,” Crump said. “If you come in and do 22 while standing and leaning against the wall, that counts. We’re just doing it to support a cause. … It’s not about who’s the toughest person out there, but if you want to come in and support the cause, we’ll find a way to let you help.”

A variety of 22 push-up challenges for veterans are listed online, promoted by individuals or organizations.

The organizers of www.drop22challenge.org ask that participants visit the website to donate a minimum of $1 for each of the 22 push-ups. They ask a participant to take a video of himself doing the push-ups, upload it to his favorite social media channels and share it with the website. Organizers also challenge participants to ask relatives, friends and co-workers to do the same.

Crump said he brought the idea of the challenge to the Vassar club after viewing the Facebook page of Tyler Diener, a former 1 Life Fitness member attending Michigan State University.

“I saw it on his Facebook page that he had done the challenge and then I decided that I wanted to be a part of it, so I came in and did it for myself, and then I spoke with (1 Life Fitness owner) Larry McGrandy about it, and I thought ‘You know what, it would be good publicity for the gym and for a good cause.’”

The “1 Life Fitness” Facebook page shows videos of some of those taking part in the 22 Push-Ups Challenge at the club. Crump asks participants to do 22 push-ups in 22 days to support veterans with PTSD, though they don’t have to do those at the club.

“I had some ladies that are turning the corner on their 60s and they’ve taken part,” Crump said. “We have 8- and 9-year-olds involved.”

The act of doing even one push-up – much less 22 – can lead to bigger and better things, according to Tina Bacon, who joined 1 Life Fitness in the spring of 2014 and now visits the gym with two workout partners.

Bacon, the former Vassar city clerk, said the push-up challenge “made me think of John (Crump) because the first time I did a push-up, I was lucky to push myself up once.”

Bacon, who now does four sets of push-ups and pull-ups when working out at the club, recalled the first push-up.

“John’s laying on the floor in my face, saying ‘You can do it, you can do it,’” Bacon said. “Well, then you get a few more out and you start doing it a little bit more often, and then all of a sudden, I can’t believe that I can do what I can do.”

Tom Gilchrist is a staff writer for The Advertiser and can be reached at

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