(SAVANNAH) There is an effort underway in Georgia and across the country that aims to save the lives of more than 8,000 veterans who commit suicide every year. It’s called Stop 22 because the daily average is 22 suicides by veterans, one every 65 minutes. A gymnastics team coached by two people from Savannah have worked awareness of this issue into their workout. Now 12 little gymnasts in Canton, Georgia are hoping to Stop 22 by doing 22 push-ups a day for 22 days

David Hix and Courtney Jackson, both from Savannah, attend Kennesaw State University. Both coach gymnastics at the Canton Gymnastics Academy. They approached their team about joining the growing effort to raise awareness by pledging to do push ups every day, for three weeks and a day. ” It’s kind of a dark topic for a couple of little girls, but you know, there’s a lot of them on the team that have parents or other family members that have been deployed, so I really think they understood it really hit’s home for ’em” Jackson said. Hix says he was prompted to do something when he did the math about 22 veteran suicides a day . ” When you’re looking at the 8,000 veterans a year that are committing suicide, when you look at the number, I mean you kind of don’t realize that a lot of that number right there, a lot of the 22 a day doing this to themselves, um, I mean these are kids that are 18 to 20 years old.” said Hix.

Veteran suicides are more than statistics for the founder of a veteran own and operated business in Savannah. Daniel Merritt with NineLine Apparel says he was a squad leader when he served during the surge in Iraq in 2008. ” Since I’ve been home from that deployment, I’ve lost two of my soldiers, have taken their own life and are part of that 22 a day.” Merritt said. His screen printing business is producing a line of shirts and other apparel with the Stop 22 logo, a red stop sign shape, banner. Merritt says a portion of the proceeds benefits a non-profit foundation that aims to drop the number 22 to 0 when it comes to veteran suicides in the U. S. In the last two months, those sales have raised $1,200 dollars for Stop 22. Merritt says he really likes the campaign built around push ups. “I think the 22 pushups a day is a great way to raise awareness.” Merritt said.

Hix encourages everyone to join in, giving time and effort to remember men and women who have given so much to the nation. But he stresses that participants do not have to perform push-ups like our troops do in training. “Be creative. Any way you do it, it doesn’t matter how you do it. the veterans don’t care how you do it, I mean just do it and let them know that you’re doing it for them.” Hix said. Jackson says a few push-ups could mean a lot to some veteran’s contemplating suicide. She says it’s a way to send a personal message to veterans, written with a little sweat equity. ” That they’re not forgotten. That they’re still important and we need them.” Jackson said. their team is in the 14th day of their Stop 22 Push Up Challenge.http://www.stop22.org/http://www.ptsd.va.gov/professional/co-occurring/ptsd-suicide.asphttp://www.ninelineapparel.com/nine-line-news/help-stop-the-22day-heres-how-/?gclid=CJ7DpOfQ0ssCFdgYgQodkW8MHA