GRAND RAPIDS — A Kent County Reserve Deputy, still planning to run across Michigan for a third time in honor of fallen officers, but this time there will be some big changes.
Matt Garbarino said he thought about canceling the run due to Coronavirus, but decided to simply change his route instead. He said that not even a pandemic can take away from his message.
With gyms closed, more people are getting creative with fitness, but for Garbarino, running more than 100 miles across the state isn’t just some ‘Quarantine Challenge,’ it’s become his passion. He said, “It was something that the first year, I never thought there would be a second year, but so much good came from it from a standpoint of raising awareness.”
He’s raising awareness forofficers killed in the line of duty and the families they leave behind.
“My pain will go away after a 100 mile run, those people have to live with that pain their whole life,” Garbarino said.
Money raised from past runs has gone towards families who've lost loved ones in the line of duty.
Usually, Garbarino runs on open roads over several days with law enforcement escort, but this year the plan is to run 100 miles in 24 hours and without police escorts.
Garbarino said he made the choice so he wouldn’t take away police resources.
That all means his route had to change too.
“We will start around 8 pm Thursday night on June 18th in Ashton, MI which is north of Reed City on the white pine trail and I’ll be taking that all the way south into Grand Rapids to the trail systems by Fifth Third Ballpark, Millennium Park, Kent trails. I’ll end on the south side of Grand Rapids just east of Byron Center in Gaines Township at the Kent County Sheriff’s substation, ”he said.
He’ll still carry his Blue Line Flag, displaying the names of fallen officers and their End of Watch date. Garbarino said carrying that flag is a challenge in itself.
“I’ve kind of over the years mastered that. How the wind hits you, and how you hold it, whether the windows behind you,” he said.
Garbarino said running through the night will be meaningful too.
“There’s so much good that happens with people and law-enforcement when nobody sees it and I’m going to be running in pitch black with a headlight and with my flag and no one seeing me and to me there’s some symbolic good to that. That’s very representative of what happens every day in law-enforcement,” he said.
It’s everyday good that Garbarino said has been overshadowed by the police brutality seen in Minneapolis this week.
He said, “It’s unfortunate that that happened, and it’s a tragedy. Most everybody that’s in law-enforcement does the best job they can, under many cases the worst circumstances to do it, and good officers are more outraged than ever to see bad officers doing things like that.”
Garbarino wants everyone to stay safe in a time of social distancing, but welcomes any and all support along his route.
He said, “I probably won’t see anyone at 3:00 in the morning, but maybe towards the end of the day that would be wonderful those last 5 to 10 miles.”
This year, Garbarino said he hopes he can spark a little extra something in everyone to find a passion and run with it.
He said, “You don’t have to be anything special or anybody special to do something to make a difference. That’s the big thing, get out of your comfort zone and when you do that, boy, there’s a lot of good things that can happen. “
You can follow Garbarino during his run on the Run Across Michigan for Law Enforcement Facebook and Instagram.