By Jano Tantongco
A Huntington Station man lifted a total of 1,105 pounds to raise funds for veterans at the first annual Barbell Benefits event at the East Islip Health & Fitness Center on Saturday.
“I wanted to spread the awareness of the mission of 9-1-1 Veterans and bring honor to a Long Island Marine Corps hero,” Brian Dwyer, 59, said.
That hero was 19-year-old Jonathan Haerter, of Sag Harbor, who was killed in action on April 22, 2008. For his efforts as a rifleman in Operation Iraqi Freedom, he was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross, the second highest military award for valor in combat.
“I wore his jersey for Team Jordan,” Dwyer said, adding that Haerter has been nominated for a Congressional Medal of Honor.
Dwyer is also a U.S. Marine veteran who joined the armed forces in 1976, serving for six years.
Though he’s been training and exercise for much of his life, this was the Dwyer’s first powerlifting contest.
Powerlifting involves three attempts at maximum weight for three kinds of lifts. Out of the eight contestants, Dwyer had the highest total proportional to his body weight, performing a 405-pound squat, a 275-pound bench press and a 425-pound deadlift.
Starting with a goal of $2,000, Dwyer asked for donations of a penny per pound, amounting to roughly $10 each donation.
But, Dwyer easily doubled that, coming up at $4,697 through GoFundMe (Gofundme.com/power-lifting-benefit-competition). All of the proceeds will go toward 9-1-1 Veterans, a nonprofit organization that provides emergency financial assistance to Long Island vets.
Dwyer added that the organization has no paid employees, so he wanted to assist and raise awareness doing what he does best.
He works as a senior living advisor for Oasis Senior Advisors, helping to place seniors in assisted living facilities.