Wilmington man runs 900 miles and counting to raise money for veterans

Wilmington man runs 900 miles and counting to raise money for veterans
James Gavin has run a 10K every day since the beginning of September to raise $50,000 for Operation Restored Warrior. (Source: WECT)

WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - A Wilmington man walks the walk after promising to run 10 kilometers every day until a fundraiser helping veterans reaches its $50,000 goal.

Back in September, James Gavin decided to put his best foot forward, starting a long journey for a very special cause.

Gavin started off by walking. The challenge was to do 10 kilometers--more than six miles--each day for 22 days. Eventually, he started running.

“It’s supposed to represent the 22 veterans per day that commit suicide,” said Gavin. “We found out that the number is probably closer to 40 per day because a lot of states don’t report it.”

The goal is to put an end to those suicides-- raising $50,000 to help returning veterans through Operation Restored Warrior. He and other participants in the fundraiser got some much needed attention at first, pulling in over $41,000 in donations. Less than $10,000 from their goal, they seem to have lost the momentum.

“One of the other people had decided ‘I’m just going to keep running until we hit our goal,’ so I said ‘yeah, I can do this now.’ I started running after probably a week or two, so I said ‘I’m going to do it. I’m going to run until we hit that goal.’ Obviously, I was anticipating another 20 days or so and here we are today. We’re not quite to our goal yet and I’ll run number 143 today., my 143rd straight 10K.”

Gavin says he’s tired from all the running, but it’s worth it if veterans can get the help they need when returning home.

“They break you down to build you back up to be a warrior, which is exactly what you need in war,” said Gavin, whose father is a veteran. “Then, you come back here and there’s really not a process to take care of them when they come back. There’s not a process to break them down and build them back up as normal. They have a hard time dealing with a normal life.”

“They fund these trips to bring these veterans in that are having a hard time. They just spend a week together dealing with their faith and finding Jesus and finding their ‘why’ and their love, their self-love and their self respect.”

Forty days of running soon turned to 80, and 80 turned to 100.

“I cannot believe it. I look back on it and I started, obviously 143 days ago, but I’d say about the first week of September and I’ve run over 900 miles. I never thought I could do it.”

He and the others participating in the fundraiser won’t quit until they hit that goal—one they say could save veteran lives.

“100% success rate. Not one person who has participated in one of their drop zones has committed suicide. With $50,000, we can fund two drop zones--you’re talking 20 people. I know that I’ve saved 20 people’s lives.”

He and other participants in the fundraiser got some much needed attention at first, pulling in over $41,000 in donations. Less than $10,000 from their $50,000 goal, they seem to have lost the momentum.

Gavin says he’s tired from all the running, but it’s worth it if veterans can get the help they need when returning home.

“They break you down to build you back up to be a warrior, which is exactly what you need in war,” said Gavin, whose father is a veteran. “Then, you come back here and there’s really not a process to take care of them when they come back. There’s not a process to break them down and build them back up as normal. They have a hard time dealing with a normal life.”

Gavin’s group is also selling t-shirts to put money towards their goal.

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