From the outside of Gunners restaurant in St Marys you can hear the sounds of chants. “We are Spartans!”
Inside the Spartans’ assembling. “Can i get a boom? Boom!,” roars the crowd.
It’s being called a movement in Elk County.What started as a youth group just four months ago, is now a place for 283 members of all ages to become empowered and make a positive change in the community.
The man who started it all? Retired United States Marine,Todd Parisi “He’s been like a father figure after i lost my dad,” explains Spartan Patrick Duffield.
However, it’s not just about giving back. Each member of the group- a warrior- fighting their own personal battles. “It’s a we not a me and everyone united, and not divided. Everyone supports each other,” explains Parisi.
Some of those battles are internal, explains Spartan Celina Bono. “They don’t judge you for you who are. It’s just a really great experience.”
For others, it’s physical. This includes 18 year old Patrick Duffield- just this past year he beat cancer.
“Everyone here has my back so i can’t let them down,” explains Duffield.
Some members are just trying to inspire someone else which includes Ed Greenawalt. He’s a veteran, who gave his father’s military uniform to a local young man collecting World War II military memoriabilia on Tuesday.
“That really touched me that i know there’s a young fellah that when I’m gone my dad’s uniform is still living on,” says Greenwalt.
Parisi says this is just the start of giving back to communty. “These kids are not only just out there going through the motions, they’re passionate. They get so many compliments it’s so impressive to see their level of deovtion and loyalty.”
He hopes the group will continue to expand. The goal? 300 members by the start of school.