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Meet The Penn State Sophomore Walking 22 Miles For Veteran Suicide Awareness

The (seemingly) vertical climb up Shortlidge Road feels like an Everest-level feat on the greatest of days, and it’s only a fraction of a mile long. Take that, multiply it a couple of dozen times, and you’re probably still not at 22 miles.

What’s the significance of 22 miles? It’s the distance that Penn State sophomore Nick Greisiger is walking to raise money and awareness for veteran suicide.

“I chose 22 miles for the distance because, on average, 22 veterans a day commit suicide,” Greisiger said. “Each mile is for a veteran who lost their battle against whatever demons they had, and it’s important that they are remembered and honored. There are push-up challenges and what-not that have gone viral to raise awareness for veteran suicide; this is just my spin on it.”

The IST security and risk analysis major plans to start his walk on East College Ave., turn right onto North Atherton Street before once again turning onto East Park Avenue. From there, he’ll walk until he hits University Drive, where he’ll then turn back onto East College Ave. to complete his walk.

Basically, starting at 2 p.m. Wednesday, he’ll take a loop around the perimeter of University Park before ending his journey at Penn State Veterans Plaza. While the walk may seem long and definitely will be exhausting, Greisiger has a good reason.

“In March of 2019, I lost Hunter, one of my best friends and someone I served with for four years, to suicide,” he said. “The last time I had talked to him, we were talking about how I was doing at Penn State and what I was thinking of doing after college, and how he was doing still in the Marine Corps. We ended the conversation with a plan for him to come visit State College in May, but we wouldn’t get the chance to see each other again.”

Since losing his best friend, Greisiger says it hasn’t gotten easier.

“Since March of this year, three other people I had served with have committed suicide, so veteran suicide awareness is something extremely important to me and something I believe can not be addressed enough,” Greisiger said.

This isn’t the first time that he’s walked for the cause, though. Last year, taking the same route, he raised more than $1,000 in a week through Facebook for Mission 22, a charity dedicated tackling veteran suicide. Since he’s already gone through it, he’s been able to nail down a training regime that works for him.

“I have been doing cardio about six days a week, as well as leg strengthening exercises,” he said. “What makes this difficult is the distance, so I believe the biggest struggle is going to be mindset. With all of the help and support I have gotten so far, I don’t think that will be a problem.”

This year, Greisiger is already on track to raise $2,000 despite the fact that he’s no longer attached to any specific charity. Even without the money, however, he’s still proud to be supporting and promoting his cause.

“The whole goal of this event is to raise awareness for veteran suicide,” Greisiger explained. “I originally started doing this last year simply so people would take a second out of their day to think of those who were affected by veteran suicide, and to think if they could help in any way to bring that ’22-a-day’ number to zero. It wasn’t until I had friends and family ask where they could donate that I realized I could do this event as a fundraiser for a charity that means a lot to me.”

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About the Author

Katie Moats

Katie Moats is a senior majoring in English, and her goal this year is to get a big girl job. Seriously, though, if you're looking for someone who can write and edit like nobody's business, she's Katelyn Moats on LinkedIn and will literally interview with you tomorrow. You can follow her @k_moats24 on Twitter for stupid content, but if it's something serious, feel free to shoot her an email (preferably in the form of a poem) to [email protected]

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