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Reserve Deputy to Run Across Michigan to aid families of fallen police officers

Posted by: jgomori Posted date: June 4, 2020

Photo courtesy of Kent County Sheriff’s Office
Kent County Sheriff’s Office Reserve Deputy Matt Garbarino’s Run Across Michigan raises funds for MI-COPS.

By Jennifer Gomori, POJ Editor

Kent County Sheriff’s Office Reserve Deputy Matt Garbarino decided to combine his two passions – running and law enforcement – to raise money for families of fallen officers.

“When I first started going on road patrol, it really opened my eyes as to the danger that law enforcement puts themselves in every day,” he said. “I started to run with a Thin Blue Line flag about six years ago at a local 25K race to raise awareness for fallen law enforcement. I did this a few years in a row and then thought … ‘How cool would it be to take this awareness to a larger venue. Why not run across the state with the flag and with a police escort?’”

This is the third year Garbarino plans to raise funds through Run Across Michigan. The first two years he raised $24,000 with his solo four-day 160-mile run. The funds benefit the Michigan Chapter of Concerns of Police Survivors (MI-COPS), which provides support to families of the fallen.

“I saw it as a huge personal challenge, but also a great way to take the message statewide,” Garbarino said. “I pitched the idea to our Sheriff and asked if she would support it by providing two cruisers to escort me the entire way – she agreed.”

Originally scheduled for June 4-5, 2020, Garbarino postponed and altered this year’s event due to the uncertainty of the coronavirus outbreak. He had rescheduled the run to June 18, however, safety concerns for his support team and himself delayed the event again. He is hoping to have the run this fall and plans to solidify the 2020 date later this summer. Now a 100-mile, 24-hour run, it will no longer include police escorts, an open-to-the-public fun run, and an end of route celebration “to be mindful of public health and valuable police resources” during the pandemic.

Run Across Michigan was originally scheduled to be chaperoned by several POLC-represented police departments as Garbarino ran through west Michigan coastal towns. He opted instead to run the Michigan trail system from the town of Ashton south to Grand Rapids. This new route will allow Garbarino to run safely off the streets and on mostly paved trails with his support crew meeting him at designated check points.

He runs solo due to the training and planning involved, and this year, to be mindful of social distancing. “The logistics to plan a run of this length is a lot of work,” Garbarino said. “To actually run the distance of 100 miles requires a lot of training, nutrition, and coaching.”

Garbarino, who works as a full-time Director of Marketing for a manufacturing company, has been an unpaid volunteer Reserve Deputy since 2010.

“I have always had an interest in law enforcement and also wish I had served in the military, but never did,” he said. “We are all volunteers but are trained like full-time deputies and wear the same uniform. It allowed me to finally serve my community in a capacity I always wanted to.”

Donations can be made through Run Across Michigan’s GoFundMe page. “Run Across Michigan” shirts are also being sold to raise funds.

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