Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Mr. Penny and the Powers of his Pushups!

It Fired Me UP to learn about the Amazing Mr. Penny and the Power of his Pushups. Columnist Rachel Morand of The Auburn Villager in Alabama has given us permission to share her story of the ultimate Tiger fan with the readers of Charlie Mike.

Johnny "Mr. Penny" Richmond is on his way to becoming an Auburn legend. Mr. Penny has been at Dean Road Elementary School helping the town's little ones cross the street safely for the past 30 years. He's out there every morning, in sun, rain and snow, smiling and waving at 7 a.m. He's been there so long that he's working with the kids of the kids he used to help. The beloved crossing guard got his nickname Mr. Penny before he was born. While his mother was carrying him, she felt a constant pinch that felt like "a penny in her side." The name has stuck ever since.

Those who don't know him through the school or restaurant know him simply as that guy who does pushups at Auburn football games. The deeply religious man has been keeping up this tradition since 2000, when he heard a voice at 4 a.m. "I thought I was dreaming," he said. "I woke up, looked around and I didn't hear it anymore. By the time I closed my eyes again I heard it real soft. 'Push up."

Each morning without fail, the 55-year-old Auburn native pumps out 1,000 pushups in sets of 100. He said he uses the Perfect Pushup and bangs out reps like they're nothing. He's got biceps the size of footballs to prove it. On top of that, Mr. Penny has a tradition of running his own marathon on his birthday—a 30-mile round-trip to Opelika and back.

In 2003, Auburn struggled in its first two games, losing to Southern California and to Georgia Tech. Mr. Penny wanted to know why."I couldn't understand why the news was saying we were a bad team," he said. Mr. Penny made a visit to where the Auburn athletes eat on campus, Sewell Hall. He asked for a guy they call Cadillac. "I went right up to him and said, 'I'm Mr. Penny, and I want to know why ya'll aren't scoring.' Cadillac said, 'we're in a slump.'"

Mr. Penny wanted to think of a way to motivate the team and reverse the negative talk coming from sports commentators and writers. So, he made a deal with Carnell "Cadillac" Williams. "I told him when you score, I'm going to give you 50 pushups. Make the extra point, I'll give you 50 more. Get that field goal, that's 50 more," he said. After the deal was made, the Tigers racked up five consecutive wins, four of them Southeastern Conference games. The win over Mississippi State in 2003, saw Williams run for six touchdowns.

Last year, a teacher at Dean Road said Mr. Penny should do pushups for other stats during games. Now Mr. Penny has added 20 pushups for a first down and 10 more for a sack. By the end of each game, he's done at least 1,000. "Ever since I started doing my push-ups, Auburn has been winning, so it must be working," he said.

Here’s a link to the rest of Rachel Morand’s story of the Amazing Mr. Penny, from the 18SEP08 Auburn Villager.

Teammates, keep pushing out pushups -- your team, even if it is just you and your goals, is counting on you!


1 comment:

Joe G. said...

I'd pay coins and dollars to see Mr. Penny in action.

In 1959, the weekend of the Auburn-Alabama game, yours truly made his grand entrance at Flowers Hospital in Dothan, AL (part of the tri-state area of Tallahassee, FL, South Georgia, and South Alabama).

I would simply say that all thoughtful, intelligent fitness enthusiasts HATE the University of Alabama -- to the fourth generation at least.

That is to say, if your grandfather ever said "Roll Tide!" please do not speak to me, and I do not really care if you went on to become President of the United States.

Let me draw a parallel. You know how Navy REALLY wants to beat Army? Dial that up about three notches, and there, my friends, you have the Iron Bowl.

All that to say: We love Auburn. Keep it up, Mr. Penny.

I'm six years younger, and at my current pace, I will surpass Mr. Penny's performance on the Perfect Pushup in the year 2075, give or take a few decades.