Soldier runs across Virginia, hopes to prevent suicides - NBC12 - WWBT - Richmond, VA News On Your Side

Soldier runs across Virginia, hopes to prevent suicides


Just one day after an apparent suicide at Fort Lee, and on the heels of famed comedian, Robin Williams' death, another Virginia soldier is pounding the pavement to share an urgent message.

Tony Smith is running thousands of miles, hoping to save lives by raising awareness about suicide prevention.

He runs with his son's old stroller, lonely steps along busy Virginia highways. Tony Smith quit his job to share the message, one so big he says it couldn't wait any longer.

"I just really thought that I need to go ahead and do this now," said Smith

The National Guardsman is running from Pulaski, Virginia to Virginia Beach, and hopes to run from there, all the way to San Francisco - each step, an effort to help stop suicide.

Smith knows how tough the fight can be. He's planned his own death, and came close to following through.

"I had in my mind, kind of made some plans on what it would look like and how it would go," said Smith. "The only thing I didn't have planned was when I was going to do it. I knew how and I knew the means."

But then he found help - and running. Now, he's logged miles and miles for suicide victims.

"I'll think about them, think about the family and pray for the family," said Smith. 

Smith often dedicates miles to suicide victims, too.

"I write the loved one's name in the frame," said Smith, who also takes a picture with the name and then writes a special message on Facebook about the person. He thinks about them and prays for them as he runs. He says the run dedications give those lonely, long, grueling steps purpose.

Though there are miles and miles to go, Smith says a message that there is hope makes every mile matter.

You can follow Smith's journey on Facebook and see who he is dedicating miles to, as well.

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