Texas fire dept. challenges police to pushup challenge

The challenge requires participants to complete 22 pushups to raise awareness for veteran suicide

By Cindy Ramirez
El Paso Times

EL PASO, Texas — It's not as cold as the ice bucket challenge, but a new military veteran suicide awareness campaign is catching fire.

The #22PushUpChallenge asks participants to videotape themselves doing 22 push ups for 22 days, post the video and tag people you want to challenge to do the same. Twenty-two represents the number of military veterans who commit suicide every day in the United States.

The El Paso Fire Department has taken on the newest chain-letter style challenge.

In a video posted to YouTube, Fire Chief Samuel Peña leads his team in the challenge at various locations across the city, including the Socorro Independent School District's Student Activities Complex, the Firefighters Memorial Downtown and area fire stations.

"El Paso has a strong connection with the men and women of the U.S. military and Fort Bliss," officials say in the video, encouraging the public to join in.

But don't worry if you're not military-ready, you can do fewer if needed. And there's no rules on how you do them — standard, military-style, one handed, against a wall, with a leg raised — just that you try and pass on the challenge.

Peña challenges U.S. Rep. Beto O'Rourke, El Paso Police Department Chief Greg Allen, the entire EPPD and area media to participate in the campaign.

The 22 suicides a day figure came from a Veterans Administration 2012 Suicide Data Report, which looked at death certificates from 21 states from 1999 to 2011. A more recent study puts that number closer to 20. (So if your arms turn to noodles by the 20th push up, you can say you're honoring the more up-to-date statistics.)

The #22PushUpChallenge was started by Honor, Courage, Commitment, a nonprofit group that aims to help veterans to thrive in the private sector through education, mentoring and community service, according to its website.

The #ALSIceBucketChallenge of 2014 helped raise awareness — and $128 million, according to Money Magazine — of the progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord.

Copyright 2016 the El Paso Times

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