Grandfather plans to do 100,000 crunches to honor memory of teen
GLEN ALLEN, Va. -- Harris Raskind crunches the numbers, quite literally. The neighborhood gym serves as Harris' second home. The 74-year-old Glen Allen man rarely strays from his regimen and lives by one motto.
"Get up and do it! As we get older the flexibility and agility is important too," he said.
Raskind has a stated goal of completing 100,000 crunches. The crunch number is not for personal satisfaction, it is an exercise plan with a purpose. He intends to raise awareness about teen depression. Specifically, the Cameron Gallagher Foundation. Gallagher was the 16-year-old high school student who battled depression before she died running a road race in Virginia Beach in 2014.
"He is a huge inspiration to me personally for me to observe his efforts around this project," Cameron's aunt Clair Norman said. "Harris is one example of her beautiful presence still on this earth. She is directing traffic."
Raskind did not know Cameron (her father and Harris' son-in-law are business partners), but was touched by her story.
"Maybe what I am doing will make more people speak out [about teen depression]," he said. "It is a bridge of generations there that maybe no one else could do."
Harris decided it was time to sit up to speak up. At first, his family doubted he was up for the task.
"I honestly did not take him seriously," his daughter Esther Fratkin said.
Slowly and methodically, with each passing crunch, he is changing minds.
"I know that he is determined and there is no doubt in my mind that he will do it. No doubt in my mind at all," Esther said.
Since July, Raskind has averaged about 600 crunches a day.
"I've passed 35,000," he said. "At the pace that I'm going I will probably do it before May."
While Harris is more than a third of the way toward reaching his goal, he does not think about the pain. His is instead focused on the benefits -- helping others while sculpting some washboard abs.
"I'm used to them. I don't know if the crunches are hard or not hard," he said. "I'm determined to do it. Very determined to do it."