Sgt. Desforges fitness challenge returns


The late Sgt. Desforges in uniform

Sabrina Minic, Staff Writer

“Strength and Honor”: two words that meant more to one hero than most others, and certainly will not be forgotten anytime soon.

A young marine was born on May 20, 1986 by the name of Joshua Desforges. From a young age Desforges dreamed of becoming a Marine. Once he turned 13, he chose to pursue his dreams and joined the Young Marines.

Part of the young man’s lifestyle was to stay fit. Soon enough he graduated in 2004 from Ludlow High School.

After that, he followed through with his dream and joined the Marine Corps in September. He was always a role model for his fellow Marines; especially when it came to being in top physical condition.

On the forlorn day of May 12, 2010 the young Marine was tragically killed in action as a result of a hostile event while supporting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan.

In his memory, Ludlow High School’s staff member Tom Cote organized the Sergeant Joshua D. Desforges Physical Fitness Challenge.

“We wanted to raise money to build a memorial to honor Josh and his family for their sacrifice,” Cote shared as he pointed outside the window of his office and at the memorial.

On the first year, they saw an attendance of about 20 people. As the challenge continued yearly the attendance amount grew. The second year had 44, and the third had 63. Cote hopes to gain over 60 participants this year and have all grades and schools represented.

Cote sat back in his chair in thought when the question of how much money he hoped to raise was mentioned, the heater filling the silence. “Enough so the (Desforges) family can hand out over 20 awards to graduating seniors,” he replied.

A small pile of t-shirts was pulled out and laid on his lap as he held up one. It unfolded to reveal a nice shade of tan with an image of an eagle on the left breast with an anchor under it. On the back, there is a black outline of the Desforges Memorial with the American flag in full color waving gracefully.

Shirts are currently being sold at all schools and will be available on the day of the challenge.

All participants of the challenge shall receive one upon signing up and other copies of the shirt will be sold on March 13 at 3:00 p.m. at the event for $20 each.

“Everything we’ve done for Josh, they are made in America. So it’s worthy of Josh,” Cote commented as he placed the shirts to the side.

The physical fitness challenge consists of multiple military-based exercises that participants must endure for a full 60 minutes.

Those exercises range from nine diverse types of push-ups, seven various leg exercises, five different types of abs exercises, and two normal pull-up sessions. Females, however, are allowed to do modified push-ups due to having less upper body strength than males.

Past winners include the 2012 winners: Ryan Wytas ’12 (who joined the Marine Corps) and a teacher by the name of Jennifer Maurer. The winners of the 2013 Desforges Challenge are English teacher Charles Cangemi and Physical Education teacher Rebecca Gauvin.

Cangemi participated in 2013, making it his second year of the challenge.

In preparation for the challenge, Cangemi did a series of exercises, “I did a lot of plyometrics, a lot push ups, and a lot of pull ups in addition to my usual workout.” He says that the extra training helped him quite a bit.

He walked away with a neat plaque, marking he won the challenge. “I knew I was going to finish, but I really didn’t believe I would actually win the entire thing,” explained Cangemi.

The English teacher decided to participate because it was for a great cause. “It honors a fallen brother (marine) while raising money for a cause in his name.

Due to his win last year, Cangemi cannot rejoin the challenge. Instead, he has decided to help Cote lead the challenge and plans on donating to 4 or 5 students of his choice.