Push-ups for mental health awareness

Smiling through the pain: Member for Morwell Martin Cameron and Allan Williams took part in the push up challenge for Lifeline Gippsland.



ALLAN Williams is no SAS officer, gym junkie or athlete.

What he is though is a local man with a big heart wanting to make a big difference.

Taking on Lifeline’s Push Up Challenge for mental health and raising money for the crisis line, Mr Williams challenged himself to do 3144 push-ups in one day on Saturday, June 17.

Really confined to the eight hours in the Traralgon Centre Plaza, Mr Willimas publicly took on the challenge and dared others to join in on the cause by donating to Lifeline or pitching in a few push-ups themselves. Each push-up completed represented a life lost to suicide in 2021.

“I did this year a public event to attract more attention to it. It’s hard to get people to donate. There are so many good causes and charities out there, all worthwhile and all worth contributing to, but it’s sort of hard to get recognition,” Mr Williams said.

The Push Up Challenge runs from June 1 to June 23 and aims to raise awareness about mental health and the impact of suicide on Australians.

With hopes to inspire others to take on challenges for a good cause, Mr Williams said, “A lot of people say ‘That’s such a big thing’, but I guess for me, I’m 58-years-old, I had a heart attack a year ago, so doing this was partly working on my own fitness and health.”

Working for Lifeline Gippsland, Mr Williams has seen first-hand the funding issues Lifeline faces in order to provide a critical and lifesaving service.

“We’re only party funded by the government, so what we need to run Lifeline Gippsland crisis line comes from money that we raise ourselves like through the op shops. And the push-up challenge is a great way to do that publicly,” he said.

Having participated in the ordinary push-up challenge over 21 days the previous year, Mr Williams decided it was time to up the ante in 2023, opting to reduce the time frame to one day.

“When I joined Lifeline last year I did the push-up challenge the normal way, over 21 days, as most people who participate normally do,” he said.

“I contacted Traralgon Plaza and they were happy to help us out and give us a public platform to do that, somewhere where they’d be plenty of people and hopefully raise a lot more money out of it.”

Raising well over $1000 on the day, people from all walks of life came to gawk at the scene and contribute.

“I was hoping to do the total amount, which was 3144 in the day myself; I didn’t get all of that done; we sort of ran out of time, so I didn’t get there; I still did 2560 personally and together with other people who contributed, even my son and my elderly father-in -law, we got to 4480 push-ups in the day,” he said.

“I reckon we had some kids join in, we had some adults join in we had a bit of all sorts, I think overall we had about 30 different people jump in and help.”

Even Member for Morwell, Martin Cameron made an appearance at Traralgon Centre Plaza, contributing 450 push-ups in an hour.

“I think he (Mr Cameron) was a little sore the next day,” Mr Williams said.

With a strategy in mind, Mr Williams was pumping out the push-ups set-by-set like clockwork.

“I simply did a mathematical thing so I said ‘well I’m there for eight hours, so if I break that up over eight hours and allow for a bit of rest time,’ I had a 10-minute break each hour, how many would I have to do each hour and then break it into how many I would have to do each minute.”

Pyramid sets were the way to go for Mr Williams, making the first set eight push-ups a minute, the next was nine a minute, then increased to 10, then back down again.

“Mentally, I wasn’t thinking of doing thousands of push-ups; I was just thinking just do the next eight, the next nine or the next 10 and kept doing it that way,” he said.

Managing around 2560 push-ups himself, it was understandable that Mr Williams would be a bit fatigued by the end of the day.

“I was very tired, that’s for sure, I wasn’t as sore as I might be and I certainly didn’t get injuries, but the next day my legs were really sore simply from getting up and down, but overall I was pretty well, certainly after a good feed, a good shower and a good cup of tea I felt a lot better afterwards,” he said.

The public push-up challenge gave Lifeline Gippsland an opportunity to raise awareness for mental health and their work.

“A lot of (people) were surprised when we talked about the number of push-ups, that 3144 being the number of people who ended their lives by suicide by the end of 2021. I think a lot of people were shocked to hear that number,” he said.

Mr Williams explained that the money raised from the day will all go directly to Lifeline’s Gippsland Crisis line, which provides relief to people “facing their darkest hour alone,” as “sometimes people just need someone to talk to.”

“Every one of those calls costs money, free for the caller, but every call to Lifeline costs on average $39,” Mr Williams said.

“The thing about mental health and suicide, particular, it is often a conversation that people feel uncomfortable in having, they don’t feel safe in having, but the more people do talk about, the more they do reach out for some support, the more they talk to someone that can be understanding when they are struggling with those sort of issues really helps people navigate it with success rather than the alternative.”

Mr Williams is keen to do the push-up challenge again, explaining that the more events and money Lifeline receives, the more they can do to help those struggling.

“The more we can raise public awareness and funds, the more people we can support,” he said.

Continuing on to say that he, “broke (the challenge) down into something manageable and achievable,” Mr Williams challenged others to take on something similar in the name of a cause they were passionate about.

“I’m just a regular guy, I’m just a 58-year-old bloke that’s not in peak physical condition or anything like that, but it is a cause I believe in. It was something I really wanted to do to help and something I really think will make a difference.”

Every dollar you give helps Lifeline save lives.

Donate today by visiting llg.org.au or phone 0351 363 500.

Smiling through the pain: Member for Morwell Martin Cameron and Allan Williams took part in the push up challenge for Lifeline Gippsland.