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Students at Bellwood-Antis Middle School do pushups as part of the 22 pushup challenge, which helps raise awareness for military veteran suicides. Students also participated in the 25 situp challenge to raise awareness for childhood cancer. Mirror photo by Cati Keith

BELLWOOD — Bellwood-Antis Middle School will have an assembly Friday to recognize students for meeting a pair of challenges to bring awareness about issues affecting veterans and children.

The 22 pushup challenge is in honor of the 22 veterans who commit suicide every day, and the 25 situps are for childhood cancer awareness.

Teacher Brandon Hescox, who, along with Connor Hunter and Susan Nycum, had a hand in planning the challenges said the Bellwood community has many veterans and it lost student Maddi Shura to childhood cancer in 2017.

She would have been in eighth grade this year.

“I do it because of my cousin,” Hunter Shura, an eighth grader, said.

He did the 25 situps in her honor and also helped get the word out about the challenges.

“He was really involved by making videos and getting the word out about it,” Hescox said.

Students who participated signed a pledge sheet that they would do 22 pushups and 25 situps a day in the month of September.

“We made each student a calendar that they could put on their locker and then teachers signed off that they completed those each day,” Hescox said.

Most of the students did the pushups and situps with their homeroom teachers.

Hunter said one of the coolest parts was seeing the kids who hated doing pushups and situps participating in the challenge.

“They weren’t doing those because they thought it was fun; those students were doing them daily because they knew it was to help those that are hurting,” he said.

He said the challenges allowed them to get a lot of students to engage in healthy behaviors while bringing awareness to two important issues.

“Raising the money is great, but what’s equally as great is getting these students to see that they can make a positive impact in this world if they’re willing to put in the effort,” Hunter said.

Eighth grader Hayden Laird said she enjoyed doing the challenges because it helps people.

“I feel it can be a push to get the awareness out there to the school and we can help more people with their illness,” she said

As Shura, Laird and Bryson Hescox and Ethan Shawley were all part of the video crew, they made videos that were uploaded to YouTube to help promote the challenges.

“It all goes to a good cause. That is why we pushed for people to do it,” said Bryson.

“It is emotional that kids are doing pushups for soldiers and situps for kids with cancer,” Shawley said.

Shirts were made to raise money for both causes.

At 1:30 pm Friday, there will be an assembly recognizing the students for their hard work and to give checks to the Brian Morden foundation for childhood cancer and the Van Zandt VA Medical Center’s mental health unit.

The whole middle school will be there to celebrate their fellow students’ achievements.

At the assembly, they will have a pushup and situp contest with prizes.

“I love the fact that it is an entire middle school effort, and students have ownership with this project,” Nycum said.

Mirror staff writing Cati Keith can be reached at 814-946-7535.

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