A veteran ran 100 miles on October 1 and October 2 to bring awareness to the 100 veteran suicides on average each year in Minnesota and raise awareness about mental health. The run helped raise $20,000 for the Freedom Fishing Foundation, a non-profit that helps veterans.
Veteran Caleb Wedger, of Forest Lake, Minnesota, served in the National Guard for nine years and was deployed for six months in 2012, according to Press Pubs. During his deployment, Wedger spent time in both Afghanistan and Kuwait, Press Pubs reports. Right before Wedger left for basic training in 2010, his father committed suicide.
“Working through his suicide, I left for basic training two weeks after he took his life,” Wedger told KSTP 5. “He has always struggled with alcohol, so that mixed with depression, and maybe not having the resources.”
Press Pubs reports that Wedger was moved last year after coming across a press conference where Governor Walz highlighted the grim statistic that 100 veterans in Minnesota commit suicide each year on average.
“For whatever reason, that really grabbed my heart,” he told Press Pubs.
“It’s tough when someone makes a decision to take their own life,” Wedger told KSTP 5. “It leaves an open wound. It’s a book you really can’t close.”
“I instantly started thinking like that number isn’t 100, that number is 500, 600, 800 people that are affected,” he told KTSP 5. “That’s grieving mothers and wives and children.”
100 Minnesota Veterans are lost to suicide each year, and Forest Lake’s own Caleb Wedger set out to run 100 miles to bring awareness to the issue while also raising money for the Freedom Fishing Foundation.https://t.co/DOUukBzHXo
— Karin Housley (@KarinHousley) October 6, 2021
Around the time Wedger learned of the statistic, he was reading a book by famous runner and veteran David Goggins, which sparked his idea for “100 is TOO MANY,” according to Press Pubs.
Wedger decided that, like Goggins, he too would run. He set the goal to run 100 miles in honor of the 100 veterans that commit suicide on average each year in Minnesota. According to KSTP 5, he aspired to raise $100 for each mile ran, with the plan of giving the funds to the Freedom Fishing Foundation, which is a non-profit group that takes veterans on fishing trips.
“Fishing is really secondary to what we’re doing,” Ben Elfelt of the Freedom Fishing Foundation told North Metro T.V. “What we’re doing is we’re getting guys and gals out in small groups, intimate atmospheres, one-on-one. All of our guides are veterans. So we can really connect with a lot of these folks in that respect.”
After training for about a year, Wedger set out on his journey on October 1 at 8:30 a.m., according to KSTP 5. Wedger ran a 26-mile trail that extends from Hugo to North Branch four times and finished his run at 7:56 p.m. on Saturday, October 2, according to the outlet.
Wedger more than doubled his goal, raising upwards of $20,000 for the Freedom Fishing Foundation, according to the non-profit’s website.
“It was an amazing experience,” the Freedom Fishing Foundation’s website states. “We are so honored Caleb chose Freedom Fishing Foundation as the beneficiary. We will be able to help a lot of vets and their families with the money raised.”