Marine running coast to coast for his fellow vets, passes through Chattanooga

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CHATTANOOGA (WDEF) – A marine vet is raising money for veterans who need financial assistance due to the covid-19 pandemic.

He’s doing this by racing across America, and he just made a stop in Chattanooga.

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“So I was watching Forest Gump run through the great state of Alabama while I was running through the great state of Alabama.”

His name is Russell Larkin, a marine vet that is running from Wilmington, North Carolina to San Francisco, California to raise money for veterans struggling to pay their bills during the covid-19 pandemic.

To date, he has raised close to $18,000.

“They have families to feed, and stress with veterans, combat veterans can equal suicide. It’s a high risk for suicide, and so it’s really important that I want to get that out there. Not only, is there a way to get out of that, there’s a way to overcome.”

Russell started his journey on April 27th and just so happened to make a stop in Chattanooga last night.

“Chattanooga’s amazing, I love it, I mean everybody’s running, everybody’s happy, I don’t know what everyone does for a living, but it seems like running might be apart of it.”

Russell previously worked as a medical assistant who saw the impact of covid-19 on patients and his colleagues.

“Half of our staff got furloughed and had to go on unemployment and essentially none of them got unemployment benefits by the time i left 3 weeks later, so they were all unsure of how they were going to pay their bills.”

He says the road has not been easy, but wants to show that anyone can do it.

“The first 600 miles, I pretty much lived off of ice cream bars, I was eating about twelve snicker ice cream bars a day, you know it was pretty much the only way I could get my calories. I ran 24 miles barefoot, I ran thirty-seven miles in flip flops, so the gear itself isn’t important.”

Russell says he originally had a goal of raising $100,000, but hopes to do even more.

Reporting in Chattanooga, I’m Bekah Birdsall, News 12 Now.

You can follow along with Russell and donate to the cause at his GoFundMe page.