Reserve deputy begins 160 mile run for fallen MI officers

Ottawa County

BRIGHTON, Mich. (WOOD) — Monday morning marked the beginning of a Kent County reserve deputy’s 160-mile trek across Michigan in honor of fallen officers.

Kent County Sheriff’s Department Traffic Squad Reserve Deputy Matt Garbarino started his run after a short ceremony from his fellow reservists. Garbarino is journeying from the Fallen Heroes Memorial at the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office in Pontiac to the Protector Monument at the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office in West Olive.

In February, Garbarino told 24 Hour News 8 in February his run is for the 590 Michigan officers who have died in the line of duty. Since then, four more have lost their lives.

“As I’m going through this trek across the state those are the people who I’ll be thinking about, those are the people that I’m honoring,” he said.

Garbarino said he will carry the Thin Blue Line American flag in support of police and those killed trying to protect our communities.

During a stop in Brighton Monday morning, Garbarino said the idea for his cross-state journey came about several years ago when he ran with the flag during the Fifth Third River Bank Run. Garbarino said a lot of people didn’t know what it symbolized.

“(This run is) a simple way for me to try to make a big impact on raising that awareness. I’m not doing a race… there’s no medals. It’s not what that’s about. It’s about just using running and the caravan of some police cruisers to draw attention to this,” he said ahead of his run.

Garbarino’s goal is to run 40 miles a day and finish the run in four days. He hopes to end his run by 5 p.m. Thursday at the Ottawa County Sheriff Department. 

Garbarino plans to consume 4,000 a calories a day during each day he’s running by eating every 30 minutes. An RV traveling along with him will be serving up the food.

“The cool thing is, it’s not like doing a race when you’re doing lots of gels and stuff. I’ll be eating real food: sandwiches, soups, things like that. So it’ll actually be good stuff and I’m running so slow that it’s not going to be a problem with my stomach doing it,” Garbarino said.

Families who have lost loved ones in the line of duty will be at various checkpoints throughout the run.

Garbarino lives in Byron Center and has served with the Kent County Sheriff’s Office Traffic Squad unit since 2010.

You can donate to the run online at the Kent County Sheriff’s Department Traffic Squad website. The proceeds will go towards Michigan Concerns of Police Survivors, which supports families of fallen officers.

“We provide the transportation for our survivors to get to those retreats so that they can participate in the counseling sessions and start to heal from their shattered lives after experiencing a line of duty death,” said Denise Scarbrough, who previously served as president for the nonprofit organization.

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