Lifting to Save Lives

The New Paltz Powerlifting Club started as an unofficial meet-up for people who just wanted to lift for lifting’s sake.

Years later and underway its fifth official semester, the student organization has decided to raise the bar. On Oct. 17 at 1 p.m. in the first curve of the Wellness & Recreation Center, they will host “Chests for Breasts,” a walkathon-style breast cancer research fundraiser with a powerlifting twist.

Participants will bench press in order to raise funds. The club aims to raise $2500, all of which will be donated to the National Breast Cancer Foundation.

Powerlifting Club President Forrest Schaffer, a fourth-year double major in business management and Spanish, drew inspiration to create the event from the widespread success of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, but was also driven by tragedy that hit a little too close to home.

“I have a friend who got me into powerlifting,” Schaffer said. “He was a three-season athlete and had an amazing bench press, I always looked up to him as a role model. His mother passed away from breast cancer.”

Club treasurer Amir Hama, a fourth-year digital media management major said that the event isn’t just meant for lifters.

“This is a powerlifting event, but the reason we’re doing this is to raise money for breast cancer,” Hama said. “Everyone knows somebody, whether it’s friends or family that have breast cancer, and we all know how hard it is for them. This is more than lifting, it’s doing something for the greater good of the world.”

Schaffer stressed that the event is made for everyone of all shapes, sizes and experience levels, and that all support towards the cause will be appreciated.

“It sounds like a daunting task for people who don’t come to the gym regularly to suddenly be benching hundreds of pounds,” Schaffer said. “But at the end of the day, even if we have people doing three or four reps, that’s still money donated towards the goal.”

Men will bench press 135 pounds, whereas women will bench the bar. Participants can email to receive a sponsorship sheet. They will then fill out how many reps they think they can do, and how much will be donated per rep.

The competitive aspect that drives lifters will be present at the event. The event not only serves as a fundraiser, but a competition. There will be five categories of competition: single male, single female, group of three males, group of three females and co-ed group of three.

Whoever does the most reps in their respective groups will win t-shirts. Participants can enter in a group and individually.

The event is sponsored by Schaffer Excavating, Gadaleto’s Seafood Market and Restaurant and Whitecliff Vineyard, which all will be featured on the “Chests for Breasts” t-shirts.

Hama had words of encouragement for those who might be afraid of attending the event or a club meeting.

“When you first go to the gym, it’s very intimidating,” Hama said. “Almost everyone is in shape and you can feel them judging you, it makes you not want to be there. Things aren’t like that at the club. If you ever need help, ask a member and they’ll drop what they’re doing to help you out. We’re more than lifters, we’re a community.”

Schaffer hopes the event will not only assist in the fight against breast cancer, but also increase interest in the club. He said it’s never too late to get into lifting.

“It’s a judgment free zone and that’s something we’ve always stressed in the Powerlifting Club,” Schaffer said. “Even if you can’t lift any weight when you first start, we understand that everybody has to start somewhere, and we’re here to help.”