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160-mile cross-state run for fallen police to end in Ottawa County

Audra Gamble/The Holland Sentinel • Jun 5, 2018 at 11:00 AM

WEST OLIVE — After running 160 miles across Michigan, a Kent County Sheriff’s Office volunteer reserve deputy will cross the finish line on Thursday, June 7, at Ottawa County’s Fillmore Street complex.

Matt Garbarino, of Byron Center, is running from Pontiac to Ottawa County in four days, running 40 miles per day while carrying a “Thin Blue Line” American flag. Garbarino’s goal is to raise awareness of the more than 580 Michigan law enforcement officers that have fallen in the line of duty.

Throughout his journey, Garbarino hopes to meet with the families of fallen officers, as well as raise money for the Michigan chapter of the Concerns of Police Survivors (C.O.P.S.) charity. So far, he has raised more than $5,000 for the charity.

An avid runner, Garbarino also participates in marathons, triathlons and weight lifting. He’s done marathons and other runs while carrying the “Thin Blue Line” flag before, but said he wanted to take his message to a broader audience.

“I’ve run in honor of fallen officers before and maybe there’s something I can do bigger scale than just locally to raise awareness for that cause,” Garbarino said in a video posted to the “Run Across Michigan for Law Enforcement” website.

Garbarino’s run across the state started Monday at the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office fallen heroes memorial in Pontiac. Lt. Gov. Brian Calley accompanied Garbarino for the first 13 miles of his journey.

His first 40 miles place him in Fowlerville, where he was to start Tuesday. He’ll run to Eagle on the second day, then end his third day of running in Ada.

From Ada, Garbarino will run to the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office protector monument at the Fillmore Street complex, where he expects to cross the finish line between 4 and 5 p.m. Thursday.

Throughout his run, Garbarino will have a caravan of support with him, ending each day with a Kent County Sheriff’s Office police cruiser. The cruiser is outfitted with a yellow arrow bar on the back to warn motorists to pass the caravan as Garbarino runs. On the first day, the caravan was led by Oakland County and Livingston County sheriff’s offices cruisers, then the Ingham County Sheriff’s Office was to pick up the lead Tuesday.

Wednesday’s run caravan will be led by the Ionia County Sheriff’s Office and the last day’s caravan will be led by the Kent County Sheriff’s Office and Grand Rapids Police Department. The last leg of the run will be led by the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office.

The Michigan State Police will be supporting the caravan at key points in the run and Garbarino will be joined by a support runner at various points during his 160 miles.

For those interested in donating to C.O.P.S. and Garbarino’s efforts, visit his GoFundMe page at gofundme.com/mirun. Garbarino’s progress can be tracked daily via Garmin live tracking. A new tracking link will be posted on the “Run Across Michigan for Law Enforcement” Facebook page each morning.

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