“They can’t solve the problem… but we can.”
“What’s the saying? Shoot for the sky and you might hit the ceiling?”
Joey Motsey smiles a broad grin and laughs a little; he switches his hands and now, with his left hand, punches the speed bag in front of him while shaking out a cramp in his right. His eyes glance over to a huge digital clock a few feet way: 5 hours and 37 minutes. He returns his focus on the bag.
Only 49 hours and some change to go.
Joey is attempting to break the Guinness World Record Marathon for hitting a punching bag. His goal is 55 hours… as in 55 hours straight.
How is he going to do it? “Caffeine and Netflix!” he laughs cheerfully, again switching arms. “The hardest hours are the graveyard hours—between 12 AM and 6 AM,” he says. “That’s when your brain is telling you that you really shouldn’t be doing this right now. So… I say caffeine and Netflix!”
But of course Joey has another, deeper motivation: children.
With the present record for the Punching Bag Marathon at 52 hours, Joey (who turned 55 last weekend) set a goal of 55 hours and to raise $55,000 as seed money for The Punches 4 Lunches Childhood Hunger Endowment for Second Harvest Food Bank. “P4L isn’t just about getting into the record books,” says Joey. “It’s about building an endowment that will help knockout childhood hunger in our area forever.”
“The prevalence of childhood hunger in our area really struck me,” he says, punching still. “Kids have no choice in this matter. They were born into whatever situation they are in. They can’t solve the problem… but we can.”
Here in Northwest North Carolina, 1 in 6 people are food insecure, including 1 in 4 children. Studies show that missing meals and experiencing hunger impair children’s development and achievement; and teachers in Northwest North Carolina say they see hunger’s impact in the classroom every day. Evidence shows that children who are hungry are not able to focus, have low attentions spans, more behavioral issues and are more likely to miss days of school. In short, good nutrition is critical to a child’s body and brain development.
But to Joey and his gym, Positive Stress Workout in Greensboro, working towards a solution to childhood hunger is also a moral imperative to “help individuals who don’t even have the option to help themselves.”
Another hour passes and Joey is still there, rapidly punching the small bag that is swinging rhythmically in front of him. He bends down to reach his water bottle, but keeps one arm up, continually punching. Per Guinness rules, he is being videotaped and has two witnesses watching him at all times. Today, there are two witnesses watching him closely (three counting the seven week old baby being cradled nearby), but there are also other gym patrons coming and going from Positive Stress Workout. Many stop to say hello to Joey and give him some encouraging words or to thank him, but others just smile at him and shake their heads in this way that says: “That’s just Joey!”
Joey isn’t new to marathon events or even to world records. In fact, if he reaches his goal, this will be his 4th Guinness World Record. To date, he’s raised over $200,000 for charities by breaking records for Longest Spin Bike Marathon (175 hours and 50 minutes), Longest Jump Rope Marathon (33 hours and 20 minutes), and on his 50th birthday, the Farthest Car Push in 24 hours (50 miles). So when Joey says “shoot for the sky”—we feel pretty confident that that is exactly where he will land with this one.
At the time we are writing this, Joey has been punching for 33 hours and 56 minutes… pushing each minute towards his Punches 4 Lunches goal. It goes without saying that 55 hours is a long time to stand and punch, but because he is setting this fundraiser up as an endowment, he can be assured that his impact will be a lot longer than that.
Before we leave, we ask Joey if he has any advice on turning 55. He thinks for a minute, punching a little more slowly. “Yeah…” he says, and then smiles his huge smile again. “Help people while you still can.”
Punches 4 Lunches began at 6am on May 17th at the Positive Stress Workout facility at Signature Place in Friendly Center, and run to the afternoon of May 19th, or, as Joey says, “as the Good Lord will allow.”
You can stop by and see Joey there and you can support his goal of raising $55,000 for the P4L Childhood Hunger Endowment at this link.