One man pledges "Burpee Challenge" to help raise money for new mentoring program at Canisius College

Posted at 6:40 PM, Dec 06, 2018
and last updated 2018-12-06 18:40:28-05

A burpee is an exercise that many dread doing at the gym-- and that is the exact reason why Giovanni Mion has taken on the challenge to do as many burpees as dollars raised on the GoFundMe page for the Steven Leonard Jr. Foundation.

"I thought about something that I could do to push my limits," Mion said. "Burpees came to mind, when you think of burpees, nobody smiles from ear to ear." 

Mion's goal is to raise $10,000 that will support the "Scuba Zone" mentoring program at Canisius College. This mentoring program is named after one of Mion's dear friend's Steven Leonard who died November 20th, 2016 at the age of 30, to an extremely rare form of head and neck cancer.

Steven Leonard known as "Scuba Steve" graduated from Canisius in 2007. Lacrosse practice is where he got the name "Scuba Steve" when a senior player said he looked like the main character Sunny in Adam Sandler's 1999 comedy "Big Daddy". 

"If there was something that needed to be done it was Steve." Dr. Annie Dobies, Interim Vice President of Student Affairs said. 

Steve worked as an assistant in the Disabilities and Support Office during his college years. That's where he made it his mission  to help students see their journey in life through mentoring, Dr. Dobies said. Even after being diagnosed with cancer-- he was more motivated than ever to help his Alma Mater. 

"He was a very humble man, ne never considered himself sick." Dr. Dobies said. "He just said he was fighting something." 

In honor of his spirit-- Canisius College created a mentorship program in his name as an addition to the Griff Center for academic engagement. It will open for the start of next semester at the end of January and will be called "Scuba Zone" with pictures and quotes of Steve all over the walls. 

"The Scuba Zone allows us to carry on that energy, that excitement, that sense of joy and life he had." Dr. Dobies said. 

Elizabeth Leonard remembers her late husband as a selfless and humble man. 

"Just that attitude of being a good person and giving back... that's the legacy we want to leave with everyone," Leonard said. 

The Steven Leonard Jr. Foundation will help support the program for years to come. Elizabeth believes he would be humbled to have a mentor program in his name. 

"I'm sure he'd want to jump right in if he were here today," Leonard said. "To get involved just to help in anyway possible." 

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