ROCKINGHAM — Wesley Jackson spent April pumping out thousands of push-ups not for personal physical gain, but to raise money for a local cause.
The month-long marathon was to raise funds for Place of Grace, a homeless shelter located in East Rockingham.
Jackson, who owns Premiere Real Estate of the Sandhills and is a Richmond County native, is a member of the board of directors, along with his wife Bethany.
Other board members who helped facilitate the fundraiser were Richard and Amy McRae of R.H. McRae Electrical Contractors Inc.
One of four fundraisers planned this year, the initial goal was to raise $10K to help alleviate the cost of running the campus. At the time of publication, Jackson said the team was able to double those efforts to $20K.
“There’s not really a correlation,” Jackson explained of the push-up to donation ratio. “A couple years ago when we did this, people would donate $1 for every push-up. We didn’t have the same momentum (this year), so I used social media and did all the push-ups myself to build it up.
“The homeless shelter at Place of Grace functions on an annual deficit of $40K,” he added. “It relies on the church’s offering plate for funding and we wanted to help raise money to help eliminate that cost.”
With the final hour of April approaching, Jackson posted on Facebook a video of the final countdown of the 10,000 push-ups he did.
Place of Grace had raised $13,100 between April 1-30, and over this past weekend, an anonymous $5K was donated. An additional $1,900 was also raised.
Already halfway to its $40K goal with three more fundraisers planned, Jackson admitted the push-ups were a challenge at first. But with practice, and the support of the community, the task got easier.
“I had someone tell me I wouldn’t be able to do it and that flat out made me want do it even more,” Jackson laughed. “The first couple days I was thinking there’s no way I can pull this off. But by day five or six it was like cake. I rolled through them and even did 1,100 one day.”
Joining Jackson in the virtual journey was his friend Steve Grife, who posted videos doing push-ups from Cleveland.
During the winter months, Place of Grace is an “open-door facility” run by Pastor Gary Richardson. Jackson said that there can be between 60-70 local residents living there at a time, regardless of their situation.
It’s during that season when the shelter spends the most money to provide three meals a day to residents, among other costs.
Jackson said his desire to help Place of Grace and join the board of directors stemmed from seeing first-hand how the shelter has helped people in Richmond County.
“My best friend growing up has struggled his entire life,” Jackson shared. “And no matter what, Place of Grace continues to take him in and that’s what God’s about. Jesus forgives us every single time and Place of Grace is the same way by continuing to welcome back those who need it most.
“That’s love to me,” he added. “What I see when I walk in there are people who are trying to turn their life around. I appreciate that there’s a place in our community for everyone to get a second chance.”
The kicker on the 1998 state championship-winning football team at Richmond Senior High School, Jackson remembered former coach Leon Hope telling players that Raider football served as a beacon of hope to the community on Friday nights.
And much of the same is true for Place of Grace on a larger scale today, Jackson said.
“There are parallels with me playing at Richmond and Place of Grace,” Jackson closed. “Just like Coach Hope inspired us as players, Place of Grace sits atop that hill in the old Rohanen Junior High School and is a burning light of hope for people who need it today.”
The fundraiser for Place of Grace is still ongoing and more information can be found by clicking here.