‘Run2heal’ child abuse


by Becky GINOS bginos@davisclipper.com SALT LAKE CITY—Christian Griffith is experiencing the country on two feet. The 48-year-old is making a 3,000-mile run across America to raise awareness and funds to fight child abuse. Griffith started his journey March 19 in New York City and will pass through Utah over the next two weeks. “The reason I’m doing this is primarily because I was a victim of child sexual abuse,” he said. “When I was a teenager I was raped by both men and women (my mother). I couldn’t process it properly and as a 14-year-old boy I didn’t want anyone to know men had had sex with me.” As a coping mechanism, Griffith said he engaged in unhealthy behavior. “It ran amuck in my life. Then I had a woman who stood up to me and helped me. It seems weird to say at 45 I got therapy but it was necessary and it helped a lot.” Help for Children’s Run2Heal is meant to be a platform to help break the silence and stigma associated with child abuse. “Learning and talking about it I found out there is an absolute army of us out there,” said Griffith. “We tend not to know because victims isolate themselves. I’m still struggling with behaviors outside the realm of who I want to be. Unraveling 35 years of that isn’t going to happen overnight.” Griffith is an ultra-endurance athlete who has been competing in extreme events around the world. “I was constantly looking for the ultimate challenge,” he said. “It serves as my Prozac to calm the demons in my head. When I had the opportunity to run this race it was the perfect storm. I believed in what they were doing and it kicked off the relationship.” It was tough to share his story at first, he said. “But I’ve met so many people and done so many speaking engagements that I’ve been able to paint a picture of my journey. It’s a real win for me to actually see on people’s faces that I made a difference.” Each day he runs 30 to 35 miles. “I sleep in an RV then get up and start again,” he said. “I’ve done 2, 106 miles and gone through four pairs of shoes. I have 886 miles to go.” People can follow his progress on Instagram and his route is posted at run2heal.org. “They’ve watched me run through snow, the corn in Iowa and the beautiful vistas of Colorado, Montana and Utah,” said Griffith. “People can come out and run with me along the way. I’ve had people pull over in their car and hand me money or buy me a meal at a restaurant. The best part of the journey is the people.” During his campaign Pres. Trump talked about making America great again. “I don’t think America ever stopped being great,” Griffith said. “I’m never disappointed in the people I meet.” He’s writing letters to his 15-week-old daughter along the way too. “I’m writing the lessons I’ve learned and the experiences I’ve had. Then when she gets older she can look at her life and find ways to use those.” Griffith hopes to raise $1 million to prevent and fight child abuse. “I’ve been amazed at how soul cleansing a journey like this is,” he said. “I have a direct comment to anyone who might be a victim that has packaged it away. That’s not possible. You can’t undo the abuse but you can do things to prevent it from owning you. Find someone you trust and love then tell them your story. There are steps to this. It’s a process, not an event. Your past doesn’t have to be your future.”

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