Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

January 17, 2013

Ten-hut: Troop Challenge for all

Participants, cheerleaders welcome at camouflaged contest

Judy Wakefield
Staff Writer

---- — Supporters of the Run for Our Troops — the Andover road race that attracted 1,000 runners in its third year — have come up with a new fundraiser to support troops injured while serving.

Several local gyms and fitness studios are coming together for a fun-loving but potentially grueling event called the Troop Challenge.

Even if you are not a runner, you are invited to cheer on the Troop Challenge participants as they warm up for the April 7 race with push-ups, pull-ups, timed wall sits, jump roping and 45-pound backpack carries on an inclined treadmill. It’s a first-time Andover event getting lots of community support. Organizers love that.

“It is turning into a townwide community service event... just as I dreamed of,” said personal trainer and Troop Challenge organizer Cindy Garrett-Rayner of Yang’s Fitness Studio in Dundee Park.

Tough contenders from the YMCA, Matrix Fitness, Yang’s and other fitness studios are coming, Garrett-Rayner said. They will take part in military fitness events. Prizes will be awarded to the top female and male in each event.

Starting from masters of ceremony (Bill Fahey, Andover Youth Services Director and Sobhan Namvar, Andover High School wrestling coach) to the official counters for all those fitness events (Coach Wayne Puglisi is bringing the Andover High lacrosse team to count) to all the local businesses taking part (Whole Foods, Elements, Greater Boston Running) the event has Andover all over it. And it’s all for a good cause.

The Troop Challenge is associated with the Run for the Troops 5K road race being held on Sunday, April 7 in downtown Andover. This year will be the fourth year that Andover has hosted the race.

All proceeds benefit the Homes for the Troops program, which builds homes for injured veterans.

Last year, Andover raised $30,000 for the home-building project, according to top organizer Bill Pennington of Andover. The money was used to help build a home in Granby, Mass. for veteran Josh Bouchard.

“Homes for Our Troops is just a great organization. I think people like to get involved with something where they can see how their money was spent,” said Pennington, who attended an event last Saturday, Jan. 12, in Granby, where Bouchard received the keys to his new house.

“This program turns nightmares into dreams for these guys. To see guys like Josh overwhelmed with joy is something I won’t forget and that’s where the money goes,” said Pennington, who comes from a military family. “I’ve realized that even in this economy, people love to help.”

Garrett-Rayner said Tom Fleming from the Lowell Police Academy will be at the Troop Challenge with soldiers demonstrating proper training techniques. His group is supplying backpacks for the challenge.

“We want to make our town is aware of Homes For Our Troops and I think we are doing that,” Garrett-Rayner said.

TROOP CHALLENGE Friday, Jan. 25, 7 to 9 p.m. Yang's Fitness Center, 5 Dundee Park, Andover For: Anyone who wants to support our troops, contestants or cheerleaders Tie-in: Run for the Troops 5-kilometer race in Andover on April 7 Supports: Homes for Troops, national nonprofit that gives free homes to disabled War on Terror veterans Cost: $25, includes wine, light appetizers Challenges: push-ups, sit-ups, abdominal in and outs, wall sit, jump rope, backpack carry Info:; 978-475-2020 Freebie: First 50 registrants get a free camouflage T-shirt