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Local Business Sends 400 comic books to troops and families

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Part of the drive

Some of the 400 comic books sent by Optimal Exercise Cranbury and friends, to go to care packages for troops and families this holiday season.



Local Business Drive Sends 400 comics

CRANBURY, NJ, November 30, 2018-Thanks to the clients and friends of a local business, 400 comic books will be included in care packages to service members and their families this holiday season. Fitness expert Bill DeSimone, of the Optimal Exercise studio in Cranbury, organized the effort as part of the Jawiin Comics Drive, Comics for Soldiers, and Operation Gratitude.

“I’ve personally sent comics since this drive started a few years ago,” DeSimone said, “and I happened to mention it to a client with a son on active duty. He hadn’t been aware of Operation Gratitude and asked for the links. That reaction got me thinking, so I let the other clients know, and suggested that if they wanted to help, drop $10 and I would buy comics on their behalf.” 

Within days, the clients started adding tens and twenties to the envelope. Social media contacts of DeSimone’s from out of state (one from Australia) also chipped in. As soon as money came in, DeSimone went to local comics stores, and shopped from the discount boxes, to make the money go further. He let them pile up in the studio, so the clients would see the effect of their donation. A neighbor saw his posts and added comics of his own. All told, 400 comics were packed up and shipped to Operation Gratitude.

For DeSimone, a personal trainer since 1983, there’s a subtle comics-fitness connection. “I’ve been a comics fan long before the movies, way back to the 60s and the Adam West Batman. As an adult, I realized that I’ve always regarded ‘being in shape’ as a positive, even before learning the benefits of exercise or taking it as a profession. And I trace that idea back to the images I saw in comics as a kid, where the good physique identified the character doing the good work. Simplistic, but it left an impression. Now when I train clients, I wear a cape. Which is a joke, but some trainers do wear tights as workout gear, so maybe it’s not that far off.”

DeSimone has been involved with other causes, but this is the first time he took the lead. He says it was a lot of fun, and will definitely do it again. And it’s a great use of comics, to give them to people who could use a lift during the holidays, instead of sitting in a box somewhere waiting to be reread or resold.

The Jawiin Comics Drive is run by Jason Inman, a veteran and comics professional. This year, he set out to collect and distribute 15,000 comics in the month of November for packages this holiday season. Operation Gratitude sends over a quarter million care packages yearly to service members, families, and the wounded. 

When he’s not superheroing, Bill DeSimone offers personal training at Optimal Exercise, 27B Maplewood Avenue, Cranbury.

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If you would like more information about this topic, please call Bill DeSimone at 609-462-7722, or email


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