Wildcats push against human trafficking

Hannah Olsen

Working together, the student body of Weber State University did over 100,00 pushups to bring awareness to human trafficking in countries around the world.

pushups on tracy hall.png

“The team was successful in networking in such a way that led to a total of 123,519 push-ups and $5,050 raised,” said Mike Moon, assistant director for the Center for Community Engaged Learning. “The Wildcats really came together and exceeded every expectation anyone had.”

Weber State University joined in the Operation Underground Railroad Push-Up Challenge after Jacob Hutchins, the director of alternative spring breaks, learned about it. Participants in the challenge located donors who would donate per pushup, all fighting against human trafficking.

Hutchins wanted to help fund Alternative Breaks and draw attention to the OUR challenge. The challenge spread rapidly on social media and around campus, especially among the clubs and organizations. The goal? Meet 100,000 pushups.

“I am grateful for the way our school reacted and all the support we have around here for good causes,” Rachel Hales, participant and alternative breaks trip leader, said. “Almost everyone we talked to was willing to pitch in and add push-ups.”

Weber Recreation was among the organizations on campus that got creative with the challenge. Students received free sunglasses if they came and participated in pushup sessions with Weber Recreation on the last day.

Weber Housing set a goal of 5,000 pushups collectively, offering a pizza party for the building that contributed the most.

In an email sent from University Village Area Coordinator Shane Rivera, he said that the village well exceeded their goals. According to Rivera, the five buildings combined for 7,657 pushups between 66 students.

In the end, Rivera gave the pizza party to all students who contributed to the pushup goal naming two residents specifically. Building one resident advisor Kohl Battleson completed 1,000 pushups and Marquis Murphy did just under 1,000.

The ROTC and Athletics department also played a fundamental role in WSU’s success. Athletics came in with over 50,000 push-ups and ROTC with over 42,000.

“We would not have been able to accomplish our goal without these incredible organizations on campus,” Hutchins said.

In Fall 2018, the Alternative Break Trip Leaders were challenged by the fundraising and collecting donations from local businesses.

“Despite the challenge, our team was able to raise over $5,000 for the initiative,” Hutchins said.

Many local businesses donated generously to help WSU reach their goal. Rachel Badali produced the video.

Some of these businesses have started their own push-up challenges, inspired by WSU. Beauty Industry Group will be doing a push-up challenge of their own on Feb. 22 with all of their employees.

“For future initiatives of this sort, we plan to increase our connections with businesses to be able to increase our overall donations,” Hutchins said.

OUR was grateful to WSU for their participation. They messaged a few participants saying how amazed and grateful they were for the participation. Tim Ballard, founder and CEO of OUR, personally thanked Weber State for the efforts that were put into the challenge.

OUR sees their mission as starting with awareness. With WSU’s participation in spreading these challenge, they also saw that their organization and the issue of human trafficking was also getting more attention.

“Ultimately the best part is the fact that so many people are more aware of problems with child trafficking now,” Hales said.