Matt Garbarino, a Kent County Sheriff’s reserve deputy, crossed the finish line Thursday evening.
Garbarino completed his four-day run that covered 160 miles at about 5 p.m. June 7.
Carrying a flag during his journey, Garbarino garnered much support along the way, especially during the final day’s run from Ada through Grand Rapids to the Ottawa County Sheriff’s office memorial.
He took on the solo challenge, called the Run Across Michigan, to run across the state to raise money and awareness for those law enforcement members who have died while serving and their families.
“At the end of the day, I ran 160 miles to raise awareness for something and we can all do something, we don’t all have to run across the state to do it but we can do something if we’re passionate and we care about it,” Garbarino said. “These are real people. They lost somebody and they have to live with it and they have to find a way to cope with it after all the publicity of it is gone.”
Garbarino raised over $5,000 for the cause and along the way he was greeted by encouraging fans and families who had lost a loved one.
“I’ve been through a lot of pain. Basically all day I was really struggling today, but I just kept looking up to the sky and looking around me at everything going on whether I was in downtown Grand Rapids looking at all the support I had or even on a rural road,” Garbarino said. “Every time I thought, my pain doesn’t matter … At the end of the day I’m getting to go home and ice everything and recover, my life will go on and a lot of peoples, they don’t.”
The run started at the Oakland County Sheriff’s Offce (Fallen Heroes Memorial) in Pontiac and finished at the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office (Sheriff Memorial) in West Olive. The run was led by a patrol cruiser provided by the Kent County Sheriff’s Office.
As Garbarino ran his last mile, his friends and family cheered him on. After the run, he was embraced by hugs from strangers he’d met for the first time who have lost a loved one in law enforcement.
“I still think he’s crazy for running across the state,” said Matt Garbarino Jr. “I’m really proud of him for supporting this cause and raising all this money and it felt great to cross the finish line with him.”