While having near world-record setting sit-up abilities might not seem to have an obvious connection to the pro-life movement, for Dean Yunghans, it made sense to use his skill to support pro-life causes. Yunghans has spent years honing his ability to do sit-ups. He started at age eight, doing 250 sit-ups to beat his sister after she did 200. With practice, he could do 1,000 sit-ups by age 10, and at 16, he did 6,000. Then, still at age 16, he demonstrated strength and discipline well beyond his years last January by publicly performing 10,000 sit-ups to fundraise for pro-life pregnancy centers. The feat took 10 hours and 37 minutes, and his efforts raised more than $5,000. The centers used the money to provide free ultrasounds to women facing unplanned pregnancies.
The Warrenton, Virginia, teen told Live Action News that he has been passionate about ending abortion since a young age. His family emphasized political action and Biblical values, and, Yunghans says, “The issue of abortion, in particular, weighed heavy on me, because it is arguably the most unjust behavior that takes place in the U.S.”
At age 13, after having the idea to use his sit-up skills to raise money for pro-life causes, Yunghans continued training and partnered with Care Net Pregnancy Resource Centers to support locations in his native Virginia.
Leading up to the fundraiser, friends from Yunghans’ youth group helped him hand out fliers and attended the fundraiser to count and provide moral support. The first half of the sit-ups was not difficult for Yunghans. He told Live Action News, “I was able to perform the sit-ups with ease with no increase in difficulty as I went on until I was somewhere between 5,000 and 6,000. At that point, it’s a bit hard to describe, but I felt something change in my energy level.” Despite feeling completely depleted by 8,800 sit-ups, Yunghans pushed himself to complete the full 10,000 at a pace of 20 sit-ups per minute.
Dean’s father, Wayne Yunghans, told the Star Exponent after the fundraiser, “The most impressive thing for me was his grit in sticking with it. It was unexpected to see Dean push himself so far past the point of exhaustion.” Dean’s father, who served in the Marines, was instrumental in inspiring Dean’s feat. He introduced Dean to Major General Wayne Rollings, who set a world record for sit-ups by performing 40,000 sit-ups in 16 hours. Maj. Rollings and Tim Kides, another sit-ups world record holder, gave Yunghans advice on how to train.
Yunghans did not set a world record last year, but he followed Guinness protocol, not taking more than a five-minute break per hour. Over the course of the entire fundraiser, Yunghans only rested for 25 minutes. He plans to complete more pro-life fundraisers using his unique talent in the years to come. Speaking with Live Action News, Yunghans said, “I think that the culture has quite significantly lowered the standards for my generation, and many of us (myself included) have a tendency to be apathetic, if we aren’t careful not to be.”
Obviously, not everyone can perform 10,000 sit-ups, but Yunghans encouraged his peers to use their own unique talents, saying, “If they pursue excellence in whatever God has gifted them to do, and they take they take the pro-life cause seriously, He will fit the pieces together as He did for me. I would also encourage them to pray for His guidance for their lives.”
Like Yunghans, many young people are increasingly committed to ending abortion. In recent years, pro-life student groups have found unique ways to raise funds for pregnancy centers, support pregnant and parenting students, and raise awareness about the injustice of abortion. From passing out cupcakes in honor of every preborn child who deserves a birthday, to displaying 196,543 baby socks on Capitol Hill, many young adults are outspokenly pro-life. Long accused of only caring for babies before they are born, the pro-life movement has demonstrated new commitment to assisting mothers and babies long after birth. Pregnancy centers often offer free services to clients into the child’s second and third year, and some student groups even offer free babysitting for parenting students.
For high school and college students, elective abortion has been legal since before they were born and ultrasound technology became readily available before they entered adulthood. There is no question for many young people that abortion takes a human life and is the gravest injustice in our society. Like Yunghans, more young people are finding new ways to put their pro-life beliefs into action.