HUNTSVILLE Ala. -- A former Marine began running to support veterans at the Huntsville Madison County Veterans Memorial early Tuesday morning. Kyle Killinger will run for more than 300 miles in the next few days in the hopes of raising awareness for veteran suicide.
Killinger said he never dreamed of joining the military, but his friend asked him to see a recruiter. "I was like meh. I was like ok, I'll go just to see."
Days he was on a plane to California to become a marine. "It was the best choice of my life really," he said.
He's since left the military, but now is making it his mission to support veterans, and those struggling with PTSD.
"I've lost a lot of my friends that have and to suffer with it. And it hits close to home, I don't want them to feel like they're alone," Killinger said.
He is running over 300 miles to help stop veteran suicides.
"It's going to be one of the hardest things I've ever done in my life, including the military really to a point," said Killinger.
He started his race at the Huntsville Madison County Veteran's Memorial, and he'll finish his run in his hometown of Columbus, Indiana. The race will finish with a 5K where others can join in and run the last 3.2 miles of his journey alongside him.
"The event at that last day, I want to get as many people involved as possible so that way they can tell their friends, and they can tell their friends, and it can just spread awareness, and snowball from there, and never stop hopefully," Killinger said.
This is the third year he's done a run like this. The first year he ran the 300 miles in nine days, the second year he did it in eight days, and this year he plans to run the 343 miles in just five days. That makes 22 days he's spent running, in honor of the 22 veterans that commit suicide every day.
He said if his run even helps one person it's worth it.
"Don't be afraid, it's okay to not be okay. Everybody needs help sometimes, everybody does," said Killinger.
Killinger has a goal of raising $15,000 to help veterans. You can donate on his GoFundMe page. He says he plans to document his run on his Facebook and Instagram accounts for people to follow his journey.