After four months of nearly non-stop running, George Chmiel completed his epic run across America on Tuesday.
The 35-year-old ran 3,031 miles from San Diego to New York City to honor and support U.S. military service men and women while raising awareness surrounding mental health issues faced by veterans.
His run was filled to the brim with adventure and more. He jumped over snakes in the Arizona desert, he pushed through injuries, and he even swam across the icy Mississippi River.
He took on the Beast Mode for the Brave challenge to raise money for Paralyzed Veterans of America and Guardian for Heroes, which is an organization founded by Chris Kyle, the late Navy SEAL veteran and sniper who was also featured in American Sniper, that helps combat veterans steer through physical and mental challenges using physical fitness.
Chmiel doesn’t have a military background himself, but his desire to help is rooted deep within.
“I’ve wanted to do more to support America and our troops,” he told Purpose2Play in September. “As someone who got to go to a great school, got to work on Wall Street, had a great career, and never served, I felt like I needed to do more. I realize all the things I have in my life wouldn’t be possible without the sacrifices of our service men and women; some of them paying the ultimate sacrifice, and some coming home and not getting the support they need in terms of being in a dark place.”
Chmiel crossed the George Washington Bridge on Tuesday and ran a few miles around Manhattan. His finish line: Ground Zero, where Chris Kyle’s brother, Jeff, met him.
“We all united around a mission,” Chmiel told the supportive crowd at Ground Zero. “We all united around a common cause, and that was American pride, love for our country, and knowing that we need to do a lot more for our veterans. Twenty suicides a day is too many. One suicide a day is too many.”
“When I first heard that some crazy guy – George [Chmiel] – wanted to run 3,000 miles across America to raise money and awareness for veterans, I was a little set back,” Jeff Kyle, co-founder of Guardian for Heroes, told Fox News. “I couldn’t believe that a ‘civilian’ with zero military background would put themselves through that much pain, physically and mentally, just for us.”
“We as veterans need to lean on our civilian population and vice versa – we have to understand and believe in each other to truly help,” he said. “The run across America embodies the spirit of what I call ‘citizen service.’”
Chmiel ended his heartfelt finish line speech with this:
“Let’s all take this moment here, and while it’s raining and while it’s cold, we don’t have bombs going off over our heads right now. We have the freedom to take control of our destinies, and let’s remember that and how special that is. The majority of the world doesn’t have that, and if that’s the biggest thing this run does, then it was a huge success.”
Mission accomplished, George.