By Andy Proffet
Kyle Killinger knows he’s fortunate.
While the 28-year-old Marine Corps veteran doesn’t suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), he’s seen the effects it has had on friends and brothers in uniform.
“I’ve lost quite a few friends and brothers that suffered from PTSD and committed suicide,” said Killinger, a member of American Legion Post 24 in Columbus, Ind. “Twenty-two American veterans commit suicide every day that suffer from PTSD. I’d like to get that number down to zero.”
To help raise awareness, and funding, to combat the suicide rate among veterans, Killinger ran 300-plus miles from Pentwater, Mich., to his hometown of Columbus, Ind., July 1-9.
While Killinger has been a runner since high school, he acknowledged the difficulty of running 40 miles a day for nine straight days.
“I’m definitely feeling it,” he said during a break in downtown Indianapolis on Friday. “But what I’m feeling is nothing compared to what they go through, so that’s helped push me through. … There’s been more than one day I felt like I couldn’t go on because of how I felt physically, but I know what they’re going through is way worse than what I’m going through.”
Killinger originally planned to run from the Michigan-Indiana state line down to Louisville, but was convinced to end his run in his hometown. That’s why he ended up starting his route at Lake Michigan, at the town of Pentwater, in order to keep his 300-mile goal.
Killinger has raised more than $1,200 since the start of his run; proceeds will benefit the Chris Kyle Frog Foundation, which honors the life of Chris Kyle, a Navy SEAL and legendary U.S. military sniper. Killinger also has posted videos of his journey on a Facebook page.
He wrapped up his run Saturday afternoon at Post 24, accompanied by other veterans as well as American Legion Riders for his final leg.
“I’ve had a lot of support from everybody, and I’m thankful for that,” Killinger said.
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