Road worthy cause: Local veteran runs to raise awareness

For former U.S. Marine Kyle Killinger, running 300 miles is just a fraction of what he hopes to accomplish to bring awareness about veterans who are dying by suicide.

The Columbus native will take off from the NFL Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, on July 1 heading to Columbus, talking with people along the way about the growing problem affecting veterans. His cause is called “300 Miles Because He’s My Brother.”

When he left the military in 2008, Killinger, 29, said he was never fully aware of the impact a war zone could have on a soldier.

In 2016, Killinger came across a fellow Marine veteran passing through Columbus on a trek across the country to raise awareness about post-traumatic stress disorder.

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“He told me 22 veterans commit suicide every day,” Killinger said. “That planted a seed in me.”

That statistic is what motivated Killinger, who works at Toyota Industrial Equipment Manufacturing in Columbus, to bring more information to the public about the issue.

In 2016, with only six weeks to plan, Killinger ran from Pentwater, Michigan, to Columbus over the course of a week to bring awareness about the problem. He raised $2,000 as part of that run.

After the success of that run, Killinger decided to do it again, but this time, he decided to go bigger.

During his eight-day journey from Canton to Columbus, Killinger will make stops at several places along the way to talk about the difficult transition military veterans must make when moving to civilian life.

“By raising awareness and talking about post-traumatic stress disorder, we have the opportunity to show veterans our support and let them know that they are never alone,” he said. “Bringing about conversations on what we can do for these veterans today can help to ensure they will be here tomorrow.”

A 5K run and car show fundraiser is planned July 8 at Mill Race Park as Killinger arrives in Columbus on Day 8 of his run. The car show registration is from 8 a.m. to noon that day with the show continuing throughout the day. The 5K run is scheduled for noon.

All donations raised along the way and from the fundraisers will benefit 22-2 NONE, in Mich- igan, and Save 22, in Ohio that specialize in raising awareness and offering support to veterans.

To learn more

For more information about Kyle Killinger’s run from Canton, Ohio, to Columbus as part of the “300 Miles Because He’s My Brother” campaign, visit: gofundme.com/300milesbrother.

The route

Columbus native Kyle Killinger plans to run a 300-mile route from Canton, Ohio, to Columbus beginning July 1. His daily route will be:

July 1: Canton to Wooster, Ohio

July 2: Wooster to Mt. Vernon, Ohio

July 3: Mt. Vernon to Delaware, Ohio

July 4: Delaware to London, Ohio

July 5: London to Vandalia, Ohio

July 6: Vandalia, Ohio, to Richmond, Indiana

July 7: Richmond to Rushville

July 8: Rushville to Columbus