Drop and give me 157,879!

That was the pushup tally after more than 300 people took part in an exercise marathon Saturday to benefit Push-Up and Up Charleston.

The event at Marion Square, now in its third year, raised more than $53,730 for the nonprofit organization dedicated to decreasing Lowcountry high school drop-out rates, according to the Push-Up's website.

Teams of six raised money and sponsorships for weeks before racing to see which group could do the most push-ups in 30 minutes.

The teams were arranged in a circle, with each participant doing a certain number of push-ups before stopping so their neighbor could start. Groups were divided into middle and high school, open and competitive divisions. Volunteers donning bright orange T-shirts judged each team and counted the push-ups for the open and middle and high school divisions, while military officers judged the competitive teams.

A team representing SIB Development and Construction won the open division for the second consecutive year. A group of neuroscience students from the Medical University of South Carolina won the competitive division, and Zucker Wise Guys, a group of students, won the middle and high school division.

Charleston Mayor Joe Riley hailed the occasion as a significant contribution to helping improve education in the area.

"It's changing lives for the young people in your community," he told competitors before the final results were announced. "By your actions today, there are going to be children in the Lowcountry who will be successful in the future."

Push-Up and Up donates to area schools, who can use the funds they receive to augment existing, successful programs that target at-risk students and reducing dropout rates.

The pushups serve not only as a form of personal challenge for each competitor, but "a metaphor for success," according to Loren Ziff, co-chairman of Push-Up and Up's board.

"Our training program helps you make plans, budget time and achieve success," Ziff said.

The training program challenges participants to do five pushups in 20 seconds over the course of five minutes, repeating the process with an added minute each day for two weeks. That, according to Ziff, takes the challenge "from physical to mental."

But for some, Saturday's event was just a chance to flex their muscles for a good cause. The Academic Magnet High School wrestling team, who are finished with their season, saw that opportunity, performing more than 2,000 push-ups between six students.

"The wrestling team's been in shape all season, so we wanted to use that to give back," said Campbell Long, an Academic Magnet freshman wrestler.