Four million pounds for a purpose

By Maj. Carla Raisler, 133rd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

Winners of the 22-0 Million Pound Challenge, 75th TC

Kentucky Guardsmen lift more than four million pounds to bring awareness to suicide prevention as part of the 22-0 Million Pound Challenge in Frankfort, Ky., Sept. 17, 2015. Staff Sgt. Corey Blankenship from Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 149th Infantry lifted 306,300 lbs.; Spc. Cody Andrews also from Bravo Co., lifted 298,966 lbs., 1st Lt. Adam Disney, 1-149 IN lifted 253,835 lbs., and Capt. Josh Bailey, 1-149 IN lifted 233,940 lbs. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Maj. Carla Raisler)

FRANKFORT, Ky. — Five teams came together at the Boone National Guard Center to raise awareness for suicide prevention by competing to be the first to lift one million pounds in the 22-0 Million Pound Weightlifting Challenge.

According to the VA’s 2012 Suicide Data Report an estimated 22 suicides a day are by individuals who served in the military. The 22-0 movement is bringing awareness to this epidemic through community outreach initiatives like the Kentucky National Guard’s 22-0 Million Pound Weightlifting Challenge.  

Lifting one million pounds is an impossible task when left to one person, but when the weight is distributed among the team members, the task is no longer impossible. This concept translates to anyone who is dealing with personal struggles. For those in uniform, it reinforces the idea that they can look to their fellow veterans for support.

Over 40 Team

Maj. Eddie Simpson lifts his share of one million pounds as part of the Over 40 Team during the 22-0 Million Pound Challenge in Frankfort, Ky., Sept. 17, 2015. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Maj. Carla Raisler)

On this day, 24 Soldiers showed up. They came in civilian clothing, they left their positions, their rank, and their individual experiences behind. They had one goal in mind. Lift one million pounds.

Deputy Chief of Staff for Personnel, Col. Michael Abell, started the event off by discussing the merits of teamwork and a steady, deliberate pace when tackling difficult tasks.

“There will always be difficulty in an undertaking that one or all members of a team believe is unlikely to be accomplished, but the camaraderie that develops in the pursuit of such a task is unique,” Abell said. “The shared hardship causes the members of the team to push harder than they would alone, because they simply refuse to fail their other team members.”

Abell went on to talk about how that directly relates to personal struggles.

“We all struggle in life, we all have victories and disappointments and at some point, we all find ourselves in a place where we simply cannot do it alone – this is when true friends, those who can see us struggle, show up and pull us out of dark places, dust us off and help us start moving again,” Abell said. “It is a form of love and the word doesn’t have to be spoken, the action of helping without being asked proves it.”

Teams from each major subordinate command assembled to step up to the challenge. Specialty teams like the “Over 40 Team” and the “Olympians” rounded out the final five that competed in the challenge.

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Each team had their own strategy.

“We are going for low weights, high reps,” said Maj. Michael Woodson, Headquarters, Headquarters Battery 2/138th Field Artillery and a member of the “Over 40 Team.”

“We are have two men lifting and two men resting,” said 1st Lt. Adam Disney, Headquarters, Headquarters Company, 1-149th Infantry and member of the 75th TC team. Disney’s team only had four members.

Every team is unique in tackling the challenge, just like every situation is unique when confronting suicide. We all answer the challenge regardless of MOS or background.

“I walked in and I was part of the team,” said Staff Sgt. Erin Baxter, 133rd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment and member of the 63rd TAB. “It wasn’t about how much I could or couldn’t max, it was about grabbing some weights and getting to work.”

By the end of the event the five teams had lifted a total of 4,585,705 pounds. The team from 75th Troop Command won the challenge by being the first team to reach one million pounds in just over three hours.

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