Making a Difference: Honoring a fallen veteran in OOB

Dustin James Paul was only 26 years old. (WGME)

OLD ORCHARD BEACH (WGME) – You may have seen the "challenge" going around Facebook this summer, asking people to do 22 pushups a day for 22 days.

Now, a Maine woman is hoping everyone in Old Orchard Beach and beyond will take the challenge, “making a difference" for veterans in Maine.

Joshua Cressey is no stranger to pushups. After nine years in the Army, he just recently left the service.

But he's still serving his community, by honoring a veteran.

"He was a soldier, I was a solider,” Cressey said. “It's a brotherhood."

This weekend, Joshua will be among those walking this track at Old Orchard Beach 22 times, followed by 22 pushups.

In Dustin James Paul's honor.

Dustin James Paul was Kelly Greene's nephew. He was also her son Todd's best friend. When Todd died in 2009, Dustin vowed to fulfill his dream.

"He promised he would fulfill Todd's dreams and join the Army and he did," Greene said.

But when Dustin returned from the Army, he struggled. And even though his family suspected PTSD, they didn’t know where to turn for help.

"He was really struggling, didn't get a lot of help,” Greene said. “Unfortunately, like a lot of soldiers when they come home the help wasn't there and we searched high and low for help, but it just wasn't there for him."

Joshua says it's like that for a lot of soldiers.

"I've seen a lot of my friends go through it,” Cressey said. “I finished my term in the Army as a squad leader and I've had direct soldiers underneath me who have struggled with it constantly."

When Dustin took his own life this past August, it was if Kelly had lost another son. Now she is turning that grief into action, organizing the 22 pushup challenge to benefit the "Embrace a Vet" group in Maine.

That number 22 is significant.

"If you don't know what's happening, if you don't know 22 soldiers a day are dying, taking their own lives, then everybody should know that," Greene said.

This Sunday, Kelly hopes to fill the bleachers and the track with people willing to take the 22 push up challenge, walk 22 laps, or maybe just support those who do.

"I just want to make a difference,” Greene said. “I want to turn something that was so negative for our family into something positive that can maybe help another family."

This is actually a two day event, starting with a dance and raffle at Mr. Goodbar in Old Orchard Beach on Saturday night.

The "Push up Challenge for PTSD Awareness" is this Sunday at Old Orchard Beach High School, starting at 1 p.m.

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