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North Side blogger pushes herself for a cause

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Jasmine Goldband | Trib Total Media
Chelsea Prior, 30, of the North Side does 235 burpees in an effort to raise money for Our Clubhouse, a Pittsburgh-based charity that provides services to cancer patients and their families. Prior did one burpee for every dollar that she raised for the charity.
ptrburpees3032615
Jasmine Goldband | Trib Total Media
Chelsea Prior, 30, of the North Side takes a moment to motivate herself as she does 235 burpees in an effort to raise money for Our Clubhouse, a Pittsburgh-based charity that provides services to cancer patients and their families. Prior did one burpee for every dollar that she raised for the charity.
ptrburpees2032615
Jasmine Goldband | Trib Total Media
Chelsea Prior, 30, of the North Side takes a moment to wipe the sweat from her face as she does 235 burpees in an effort to raise money for Our Clubhouse, a Pittsburgh-based charity that provides services to cancer patients and their families. Prior did one burpee for every dollar that she raised for the charity.
ptrburpees1032615
Jasmine Goldband | Trib Total Media
Chelsea Prior, 30, of the North Side does 235 burpees in an effort to raise money for Our Clubhouse, a Pittsburgh-based charity that provides services to cancer patients and their families. Prior did one burpee for every dollar that she raised for the charity.

The burpees began at 4:40 p.m. in an exercise room on the second floor of Our Clubhouse, a nonprofit in the Strip District that provides emotional and social support to cancer patients and their families.

Chelsea Prior, 30, of the North Side unfurled her purple yoga mat and went to work.

“This is going to hurt,” she said.

Prior, a local blogger, completed 235 burpees — a full-body exercise that consists of squatting and jumping — on Wednesday to raise money for Our Clubhouse.

Earlier this month, she promised she would do a burpee for every dollar she collected from friends, co-workers and family.

Prior said the fundraiser was a way to honor her grandfather, John “Jack” Prior Jr., who died of pancreatic cancer in 2007 in Knoxville, Tenn.

“He was my rock,” she said of her grandfather.

Donors pledged $210 during a 12-hour window on social media. After the deadline had passed, she received a $25 check from someone who claimed to have had trouble accessing the link.

“I’m going to count it,” Prior decided. “What’s another 25 burpees?”

A burpee is a multi-step exercise. Prior started in a standing position, then dropped down, did a pushup, stood back up and jumped in place. Until Wednesday, the most she had done in one sitting was 100.

“One of the exercises I always dread is burpees,” she said, calling them “cruel and unusual punishment.”

Prior became involved with Our Clubhouse last year after she began training for the Pittsburgh Marathon. Soon, she began raising money as one of the organization’s charity runners.

“Their mission and message really hit home for me with what I went through with my grandfather,” she said.

Prior has raised more than $1,000 for the nonprofit through other fundraisers. Angela Byrnes, a development and marketing coordinator at Our Clubhouse, and Mike Bowersox, the charity’s program manager, counted the number of burpees aloud while shouting encouragement.

“Way to go, Chelsea. Don’t give up. You got it,” Byrnes said.

When she reached 100, Bowersox cued up the song “Eye of the Tiger” on his smartphone to keep her motivated.

When it was over, Prior lay sprawled on the floor, panting for breath. Bowersox and Byrnes applauded.

Prior said she fought through the pain by thinking of those stricken with cancer who undergo chemotherapy or radiation treatments.

“If they can survive that,” she said, “I can fight through 235 burpees.”

Tony Raap is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.

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