GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A Michigan winter with a Polar Vortex, ice storms and relentless snow is not stopping a West Michigan runner from hardcore training.
Kent County Reserve deputy Matt Garbarino isn’t trying to win a medal or even come in first place: he is honoring fallen officers.
Garbarino just added another name to the Thin Blue Line flag he will carry with him as he runs across the state of Michigan.
His route starts in Detroit and ends in Saint Joseph, a trek adding up to between 160 and 170 miles. This June will mark Garbarino’s second time doing it. He admits it is not easy with sore knees and even sore hands from carrying a flag the whole way.
“This may sound kind of crazy. But the pain and the discomfort is really the attraction to it for me, “Garbarino said. “In a way it’s for me, that’s a temporary thing that I’m enduring and the people I’m doing this for have to endure it for the rest of their life.”
Karen Black knows that pain. She lost her brother, Daryle, on April 30 2000. Daryle was ambushed by a gang member while he was working as an undercover gang detective in Long Beach, Calif.
“It was like living in a fog for the longest time. I just went through motions for months,” said Black, admitting the pain hasn’t eased. “It’s like a roller coaster ride. Sometimes it does, it doesn’t. I have my good days, bad days.”
Black was one of the first to reach out to Garbarino about his run, wanting her brother to be remembered.
“I can’t tell you how many families have shared so much about their loved ones that I feel a part of their family,” Garbarino said. “I take that with me when I run. Daryle’s a part of me not just because of this run, but every day because of what Karen has shared with me.”
Daryle’s name and the names of other fallen officers will hang in front of him as he holds the flag every step of the way.
“He didn’t even know my brother or these other fallen officers and it doesn’t even matter to him, he just does it and I think it’s great. I block off days from work to see him run, that’s what it means to me, it means a lot,” Black said.
The run across the state isn’t until June, but Garbarino is raising money this weekend.
On Saturday, March 16 from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m., proceeds of shirt and food sales at Brann’s Steakhouse in Grand Rapids will go to the Michigan Concerns Of Police Survivors, which is the non-profit supporting the run.