Man runs across country for suicide prevention awareness

September 12, 2016 by Caitlin Walker 

RBC I The idea of completing a marathon is a dream for some, a nightmare for others.
For the vast majority, however, the thought of running 26.2 miles a day for eight months falls squarely in the second category.
That is exactly what Phil King is doing, and he’s loving it. The Illinois native, who turned 34 on the road last month, is running through Rio Blanco County this week along Highways 13 and 64 as he crosses America. Four thousand plus miles—from Delaware to San Francisco—with nothing but an RV, 11 pairs of running shoes (so far), and 6,000 calories a day.
“I absolutely love it. It’s really a dream come true,” King said.
When he lost his mother and best friend to suicide within six months of each other, exercise was a way to help him work through the grief process. Crossing the country to honor their memory allows him to combine his love of running with his passion for spreading the word about mental health issues and suicide prevention awareness.
It’s also a heck of an adventure.
First, he lost his driver in Iowa, which means he has to drive his RV 13 miles, park it, run half a marathon, run back to the RV and drive it on down the road to the next location.
More recently, he ended up “shirtless and alone” on Colorado’s Georgia Pass after losing his GPS device and some unfortunate directions by Google Maps. Luckily, a Vietnam vet named Don happened along at exactly the right time.
Don is one of many Good Samaritans King has met along the way.
“The people have been amazing,” he said. “So many strangers send me messages just thanking me for what I’m doing and then they tell me their story and I have a new friend.”
The connections he’s made, running through Glenwood Canyon, and being able to lay on his RV and see thousands more stars than he does back home, have been some of his favorite parts of the journey.
He’s not sure where he’ll end up after this (although Colorado is a strong contender), but he has plans to start a website to connect other runners and walkers who either have or are planning on crossing the USA and writing a book covering a variety of topics, including mental health, with a friend.
King is running through the county during National Suicide Prevention Awareness Week, which takes place Sept. 5-11. You can find more information about his journey and donate to his cause at, visit the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention website at, or you can always call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK.

Phil King eats two breakfasts a day: The first while he packs up his RV, and the second after he’s driven it down the road two dozen miles and found a decent place to camp. Then he laces up his shoes, chugs a pre-workout supplement and runs a marathon.

He’s been inching his way across the country like this since March 28, starting on the shores of the Atlantic in Delaware. His goal: to get to San Francisco by running as many days as it takes, all in the name of raising awareness for suicide prevention. So far, he’s got well over 100 marathons and ten pairs of shoes under his belt.

In central Iowa, where King lost his driver, the trek took on a Sisyphean character: Instead of running 26 or so miles and getting picked up, he now had to run 13, then double back to retrieve his RV and drive it as far as he had ran, cutting his pace in half.

It was slow and lonely going through the endless cornfields on either side of Route 6, but King, stubborn to the last, finally emerged from the plains and into the High Rockies. Social media heralded his arrival, and he has since found new drivers and a fresh outpouring of support.

It’s been a welcome change.

Through swollen joints, sore muscles and punishing days on the road, he is inching his way across the country. His daily grind is the physical manifestation of the efforts of so many across the country, like Betsy Casey, who works to chip away at the myriad challenges to mental health care and suicide prevention.

“I never want to see a stalk of corn again,” he said, sipping a raspberry iced tea at the Butterhorn Bakery in Frisco. “Coming here is every runner’s dream. I think I was above 10,000 feet for my entire run yesterday, and the views were amazing. No one else on foot, just me and the mountain bikers who looked at me like I was crazy.”

If there’s anything King has learned so far, it’s to roll with the punches — that much is clear when he casually recounts his perilous run along Kenosha Pass the day before.

“I had been warned about 285, about the pass. It was the first time so far I legitimately feared for my life,” he said, before coolly describing his half-run, half-walk along uneven terrain off the side of the road, gripping a guardrail with one hand and trying not to look down at the precipitous drop just one careless step away — or at the cars barreling toward him at 60 miles an hour.

Earlier in Iowa, he was forced to run on I-80 for six miles or so, which is as dangerous as it is illegal. An incredulous police officer stopped him, saying he had gotten dozens of calls about some loony running along the interstate.

“He thought I was the dumbest person alive until I told him what I was doing,” said King.

He refused to get a ride from the officer, insisting that he had to run every mile, coast-to-coast. If that meant getting arrested, so be it. After a brief standoff, the officer drove slowly alongside King as he ran, lights flashing as he escorted him to the next exit.

The aches, pains and hours upon hours of solitude — not to mention brushes with a jail cell or an early grave — all raise the question: Why would any sane person do this?

Simple: For his mother. For his best friend. For everyone who has ever felt the pain — or might one day feel that pain — of having a loved one fall victim to suicide.


Phil King is from Crystal Lakes, Illinois, a small city on the northwest apron of Chicago’s suburban sprawl. The towns and cities on this periphery form a loose agglomeration of development where everything seems to melt together — the oozing expansion of the Windy City’s pulsing core.

It was here, in January 2014, that King’s mother, Lisa, took her own life. It was like a gut punch to his system, and something he still struggles to talk about openly.

“I’d say 60 to 70 percent of the time it helps to talk about it,” he said, hands clasped neatly between his legs. “Sometimes,it just makes it worse. I know for a lot of people it really helps, but, for me, it feels like I’m taking a risk.”

Six months later, just as a mere semblance of normalcy was returning to his life, King’s best friend, Derek, took his own life, as well. Growing up, King had seen a lot of kids struggle with depression and substance abuse — opioids, booze or whatever cheap palliatives trickled onto the wide, leafy streets of Clear Lake. Derek, a heavy drinker who struggled with depression, had gotten into an argument with his girlfriend that ended badly. So badly, in fact, it was enough to push him over the edge of a precipice from which he could never return.

King had always entertained the idle fantasy of a cross-country run. It was something he had hoped to do with his late best friend. After that double shock to his system, though, he entertained the idea with renewed purpose: in every city, town and don’t-blink-or-you’ll-miss-it dot on the map he passed, his monumental run, he thought, might inspire people to action.

During a run shortly after Derek passed, King came to a spot on a favorite trail where he and his late friend used to take breaks and talk. In that moment, he knew what he had to do.

He started training soon after, putting in hundred-mile weeks for over a year. On March 28, 2016, he dipped his feet in the Atlantic Ocean on the coast of Delaware and said a few words. Then he started running west and hasn’t stopped since.


The national suicide rate has climbed by 24 percent between 1999 and 2014, according to the CDC. After plateauing somewhat in the early 2000s, the rate started climbing faster around 2006. It now stands at 13 per 100,000 deaths.

In Summit County, the picture is less clear: A very small number of deaths provide a tiny sample size and thus a more erratic rate. While suicide has been on the rise, so have deaths overall, from 46 in 2003 to 87 last year, according to the county coroner. After hovering between 8 and 10 percent of deaths since 2004, suicides spiked in 2014, coming in at 16.67 percent of deaths. This year, Summit County is on pace for 14.5 percent of its deaths to come in the form of suicides.

But statistics do little to capture the human suffering wrought by suicide — both the private anguish that leads up to the tragic event and the grief it leaves in its wake.

In January, Breckenridge business owner and philanthropist Patti Casey took her own life. Her passing rocked the Summit County community and prompted more public discussion on abnormally-high suicide rates in resort areas as well as Summit County’s unfortunate position in the “suicide belt,” a swath of the country where people are more likely to take their own lives.

The Casey family set up a memorial fund honoring Patti, and in partnership with The Summit Foundation, they have been working to identify areas of need in Summit County’s mental health infrastructure.

“I asked myself, ‘How do I sublimate my grief in a positive way?’” said Patti’s daughter Betsy, who has helped spearhead these efforts. “By doing everything I possibly can to decrease the chances that this will happen to someone else.”

On Monday, King and Betsy Casey spoke on the phone for more than hour.

“I felt like I was talking to an old friend,” Casey said. “I had yet to connect with someone who had experienced the same loss that I had, and to talk with him was really affirming. We both got a little teary.”

Both shared their admiration for the other’s work and resolved to collaborate on suicide prevention in the future.

But right now, King is running. Through swollen joints, sore muscles and punishing days on the road, he is inching his way across the country. His daily grind is the physical manifestation of the efforts of so many across the country, like Betsy Casey, who works to chip away at the myriad challenges to mental health care and suicide prevention. A single day’s work doesn’t bring sweeping change, just as an entire marathon puts King barely any closer to the waters of San Francisco Bay. But look back upon so many incremental efforts, linked together by dogged persistence, and they trace an arc of extraordinary, almost unfathomable progress.

We can only hope that one day, long after King has dipped his feet in the Pacific Ocean, we will look back and see an even more striking legacy of accomplishment in mental health care.

KUSA - A man says he will run across the country to bring awareness to one of the leading causes of death.

Phil King, who is from Illinois, started on a journey in March to run cross country from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean -- all to raise awareness for suicide prevention.

"I'm doing this in memory of my mother,” King said. “I want to represent her name and do this the right way. I’m also trying to make it so others don't have to go through what my family has been through.”

Phil’s mother took her own life in 2014. Since then, he’s partnered with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention to help raise money throughout his journey.

"It’s a tough thing for me to talk about but it certainly motivates me, it kind of proves symbolically that when things get hard its best to just push through it,” he said.

Suicide is a leading cause of death in the U.S. King says he hopes his journey serves as an inspiration to those looking for motivation to push through hard times.

“Just keep pushing on and good things will happen eventually," he said.

For more information about Phil King’s journey you can log onto:

King says he plans on reaching San Francisco sometime in late October.

Copyright 2016 KUSA


Runner going cross country for cause close to heart

Local News | 08/04/2016 |

By Jan Schultz

The Imperial Republican

Two and a half years ago, Phil King lost his mother to suicide. Six months later, his best friend took his own life.

Those events spurred the Crystal Lake, Ill., native on a mission that was halfway complete last week when he passed through Chase County.

While he has not set a fundraising goal, he’s hoping for “the best possible result” in his efforts to run across the U.S. for The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, which will receive all proceeds/donations.

The energetic 33-year-old started his cross-country run March 28 in Lewes, Del., with his feet in the Atlantic Ocean.

The hope is for a mid to late October finish in San Francisco, “when I’ll dive into the Pacific,” he said.

King said he likes to get in a minimum of 26 miles a day (marathon distance) and runs six days a week. Saturday is often his rest day.

He’d met that goal up until last Thursday when he hit the afternoon hailstorm a few miles west of Imperial.

“It hurt,” he smiled.

The strong hail and wind made him stop his run that day. A local driver picked him up and brought him back to town.

He got back on the road Friday, running just over the state line into Colorado a few miles. After a day off Saturday, he was scheduled to start Sunday morning east of Holyoke.

As he hit the halfway mark last week, King said at first his cross-country run was all about what he could raise for the charity.

While that’s still important, he said it’s now become more about the people he’s meeting in communities along the way.

One of those was Cynthia Bahler of Lamar, who just completed a summer as campground host at Enders State Recreation Area.

King stayed at the lake campground last Thursday, Friday and Saturday as he completed his miles in this area. Bahler picked him up at his completion points over the weekend, then drove him back out when he started up the next day.

Bahler is just one of hundreds of people King has met since March. He hears from several of them daily with text messages wondering about his progress.

From the new people he’s met, he is hearing their stories of lost loved ones to suicide, too.

“They make me feel good about what I’m doing. I know I’m doing the right thing,” he said.

While he’s met so many great people along the way, that’s a downfall, too, he said.

“One of the sad parts is I have to move on the next day” after meeting a lot of people he really likes, he said.

“There have been so many kind words along the way,” he said.

That helps in his effort, because “it gets hard some days,” he said.

He said Nebraska ranks at the top as a very special place. He received a huge welcome while going through Omaha from the Greater Omaha Area Trail Runners, where he received “a lot of meals and made 50 to 100 new friends.”

He had a driver at his start in Delaware and until reaching Iowa, but had to continue on solo, he said. He drives the RV that carries his supplies and bed from point to point, then tries to find rides back to pick it up after his day’s run.

He uses GPS to mark the exact spot he finishes each day.

His father, who lives in Crystal Lake, is able to come about every few weeks to help him drive for a few days.

“That has been great to spend so much time with him. We’ve become best friends,” he said.

After he completes the cross-country run, King said he plans to stay involved with the suicide prevention charity in some way. A book about his experiences is likely in the future, too.

People who are interested in supporting his effort have two options.

Donations can be earmarked for The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention or to King’s Go Fund Me page to help him with personal expenses at this website:

Suicide awareness runner arriving Tuesday

Monday, July 25, 2016
McCOOK, Neb. -- A cross-country runner bringing awareness to suicide and suicide prevention will come through McCook Tuesday, probably late morning.

Phil King is a 32-year-old avid long distance runner who left Delaware on March 28 and expects to reach the Pacific Coast on Oct. 16.

King's 4,803-mile trek raises suicide awareness and money for suicide prevention. He runs a marathon -- 26 miles -- each day.

King lost his mother and his best friend to suicide in 2014. As a runner, King decided to "take all the miles that I've been running just for myself and do it for a cause where it actually helps other people," King says. Though he once ran to get away from the pain of losing loved ones, Phil says he now runs to share his story of strength with others.

To help King's mission, go to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and King's GoFundMe page.

Phil King Making Strides Across America to Raise Suicide Awareness

Posted: Jul 21, 2016 7:39 PM PDT
Updated: Jul 28, 2016 7:39 PM PDT
By Dave Griek, Sports Directo


Over 116 days ago, Phil King laced up for the journey of a lifetime. Two years prior, King lost his mother and best friend within a six month time frame by taking their own lives.

Now he's trying to share his experience in order for others to become aware of suicide.

"Going in to this, the goal was just to get involved with the charity and meet all the people and start the rest of my life working to spread suicide awareness and prevention," King recalls.

The man from Illinois wakes up every day in his RV, makes a big breakfast, two actually, then takes to the road.

Running a minimum of 26 miles six days of the week; an inhuman accomplishment.

"Some would think that," quips King.

Ripping off at least a marathon on a daily basis pushing the physical limits of even a highly trained individual.

"I'm doing the most that I can," King said. "This is pushing my body and my mind to the limit. I couldn't do much more even if I wanted to."

He's half way there. There are 2,400 miles surpassed on his way to the next stop with a finish line of a much greater goal.

"Trying not to have people go through what I've been through. Show them that there's all these different alternatives to being happy. There's not one guaranteed path," King explains.

His trek is seeing it's fare share of detours. King sent his driver home earlier in the voyage, making his work doubled at times.

"That's the other challenge now that I'm by myself. Days I don't have a ride, I have to park the RV, run 13.5 miles out, turn around and run back and only make half the progress or twice the work. That's fine. That's sometimes your place in life; you have to work twice as hard as everyone else to get the similar route."

King's path still faces enormous obstacles, namely the Rocky Mountains, and more than 1,500 miles. Yet the determination only grows stronger by the day.

"Quitting is not an option. Never even crossed my mind at any point, no matter how difficult things have been," said King.

Spreading a message some, unfortunately, never got to hear.

Man running cross-country to raise awareness for suicide prevention

Published  2:54 PM CDT Jul 07, 2016

Phil King is running cross-country to raise awareness about suicide prevention.

The 33-year-old said his mother and his best friend both committed suicide within months of each other. He doesn't want anyone else to live through that.

"Anything I can do to help start the conversation to help other people not have to go through what I've been through. I mean, losing my mother and my best friend so close together. I would hope no one else has to go through something like that," he aid.

King is raising money for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

More information can be found here:

Here's a link to his GoFundMe page:

Phil King faces challenges during suicide-prevention run

Posted May 21, 2016 at 6:09 PM

Updated May 23, 2016 at 11:56 AM

Man continues run for suicide prevention, motivated by late mom

By David
Phil King’s run for suicide awareness continues.

The last time the Dover Post checked in with King he was in Pennsylvania. King, who started his adventure from Cape Henlopen State Park March 28, is running a 5,000 mile trek to California for suicide awareness and prevention.

He is driven by the January 2014 suicide of his mother, Linda King.

During his run he’s had to ice a swollen ankle, deal with GPS breakdowns, replace four pairs of shoes and been lost in the woods.

First State to far West: awareness run begins in Lewes “The mountains in West Virginia were the most challenging part so far without a doubt,” he said. “Those were some pretty steep climbs.

King is driving across the country in an RV he purchased solely for this trip. Each day he runs an estimated four to five hours or 26.2 miles. While he has no intention of stopping, he admits the run is starting to take its toll.

He most recently lost his way while running in West Virginia.

“The trail that I was taking hasn’t been traveled on in a long time in that part of West Virginia,” he said. “The creek had overtaken the trail. So instead of a trail there’s a creek running at you. I was basically running through a creek for four hours.”

The setback meant he only covered 22 miles in eight hours. His GPS unit has also been malfunctioning, making it hard to stay on track.

“A lot of the roads I’m taking aren’t on MapQuest or GPS, sometimes the information we have for the trails isn’t exactly up to date,” he said. “There have been times houses have been built over places we were supposed to drive.”

The major loss he’s facing is his shoe supply, he said.

“I’m stocked up. The whole trip will be 15 to 20 pairs of shoes. But I’m going through them fast. They’re everywhere now.”

ELLENSBORO, W.Va (WTAP)- One man is running an entire marathon a day all the way until October, a total of over 4 thousand miles. It's all to spread awareness about one special cause close to his heart.
Phil King started his journey in Delaware and is working his way towards the West Coast.

He's running more than 26 miles a day to raise awareness about suicide prevention. His goal is to raise a million dollars for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

It's a cause very close to his heart.... "In January 2014, I lost my mother to suicide and then less than 6 months later I lost my best friend. So I wanted to try and do something to help other people maybe not have to go through what I've been through. I started on March 28th in Lewis, Delaware. Today's the 26th day and I've made it 626 miles," said King.

King was in West Virginia the past few days, and he hit the trail again Sunday morning.

If you want to donate, you can find a link to his Facebook page on our Hot Button page. 


The Mort Report

April 22nd, 2016

Phil met with Mort a journalist, who has the Mort Report on Facebook to discus his run and him inspiring millions across the US with his cross country run. 

Man Embarks On Cross Country Mission For Suicide Prevention

April 21, 2016

American Discovery Trail through-hiker Phil King got an interview with WDTV in Clarksburg, WV yesterday and the clip also mentions the trail. Good coverage for him and for the trail. Just last month Phil King was a waiter at an Italian restaurant in Illinois.  But after experiencing the tragedy of suicide twice, Phil decided to run down a new path.  One that he hopes will shine light on this issue.

"I lost my mom and my best friend in 2014 and always been a runner.  So I wanted to try and do something where I could take all the miles that I've been running that had been just for myself up until this point and try and do it for a cause where it actually helps other people," said King.

Since March 28th Phil has ran a marathon six days a week for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.  Though he once ran to get away from the pain of losing loved ones, Phil now runs to share his story of strength with others. 

"Seemed like a kind of a selfish thing to do.  It was really only helping myself which is what I needed at that point.  But now it's really nice to be running with a purpose.  I spent my entire life running away from things and now to actually be running for something feels great," said King. 

Phil is making the long journey to California through the American Discovery Trail North.  Some days are harder than others, but Phil says thoughts of his mom, best friend, and all those who have experienced suicide, keep him going.  

"If it was just myself it would be easy to just tap out and quit and call it a day.  And just hop in the RV and drive home you know and not even make any excuses.  But it's for my mom and for my friend and all those people I met at West Virginia all the people that have lost someone they care about to suicide.  So whenever it gets hard out there that's what I think about I dig deep and that keeps me going and motivates me," he said.

With about six months remaining in his journey, Phil hopes that as he runs he will motivate someone else to continue running in the race of life!

"If this guy can get up and run a marathon everyday then they can get up and do the things they don't want to do.  To anyone whose lost someone to suicide or feeling depression themselves, they're not alone.  There's alternatives, there's people they can reach our to that really care," said King. 

For more on Phil King's story and how you can contribute to his cause

Students raise funds for suicide research, awareness with inaugural walk

Posted: Sunday, April 17, 2016 11:19 pm
By Rachel McBride | 1 comment

Someone dies from suicide in the United States every 13 minutes, and suicide claims more than 39,500 lives annually, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. It is estimated that a suicide attempt is made every minute, with nearly one million people attempting suicide annually.
Suicide is also the fourth leading cause of death in the U.S. among adults and the second leading cause of death among teens and young adults, making college-aged students particularly susceptible to the epidemic, statistically.
On Friday evening, the West Virginia University chapter of the AFSP hosted its first-ever Out of the Darkness Walk at WVU to honor loved ones and potentially save lives while raising money and awareness for suicide. About 230 participants raised more than $3,000, 80 percent of which will stay within West Virginia to support suicide prevention within state lines.
Tristin Toman, coordinator for the event, said suicide is something that has affected everyone in some way or another, and spring time has an increased rate for suicides compared to other seasons of the year, according to the Center for Disease Control. While data from the late 1800s suggests this spring peak has existed for decades, scientists are still unsure of the causes for the increase in suicides.
Suicide prevention is an issue close to Toman’s heart, as she lost her uncle to suicide. After his passing Toman lobbied with other members of her family to make state legislators pass Jamie’s Law, which requires school systems to have detailed suicide awareness and prevention programs.
"We are starting to become more aware," Toman said. "The more aware we are, the more people will feel OK to talk about mental illnesses."
Allison Toothman, a participant in the Out of the Darkness walk, said the event was integral to addressing common misconceptions many hold about mental illness.
"I feel too many people shove mental illness to the side, or society has this expectation that only teenagers commit suicide," Toothman said. "It is important to address that both men and women of all ages suffer from crippling depression."
Toothman walked in memory of a child who lost her parent to suicide. Her own father committed suicide in 2012.
"I think I am doing this because I’m still struggling to understand my life after my father’s death," Toothman said.
Matthew Byrd, co-coordinator for the event, said he hopes participants walked away aware of the resources available to those suffering from depression and with the knowledge that depression can take many forms and affect different types of people in various ways.
"It’s time to take the subject out of the darkness and to end the stigma associated with it," Byrd said. "There is a safe way to talk about (suicide prevention), and talking about this saves lives."
The event took place at the WVU Student Rec Center soccer fields. Participants walked approximately 2-3 miles during the event around the field’s track.
AFSP funds research aimed at improving our understanding of suicide and ways to prevent it, as well as educational programs to increase awareness about prevention, warning signs and the psychiatric illnesses that can lead to
For more information on AFSP, visit

Man starts cross country suicide awareness trek in Lewes

March 28, 2016

Jon Bleiweis, 4:55 p.m. EDT

For years, running has served as a coping mechanism for Phil King.

Now, the Crystal Lake, Illinois native is running for more than himself. And he's doing so with a Delaware connection.

The 33-year-old kicked off a cross-country run at Cape Henlopen State Park to promote awareness for suicide prevention.

King's mother, Lisa, was diagnosed with cancer when he was 8. Over the years, the cancer spread and her health began to decline. Ultimately, she was left with health issues which made the organic chemist feel unlike herself. She committed suicide Jan. 8, 2014.

"She was so important to me," he said. "I could go to her with anything and get great advice and be completely honest."

About six months later, as life was starting to get normal for him, again, his best friend also committed suicide.

He is running in their memory and to support the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

Phil King begins his cross country run from Cape HenlopenBuy Photo
Phil King begins his cross country run from Cape Henlopen State Park on Monday, March 28. (Photo: Justin Odendhal, Staff photo by Justin Odendhal)
It's something the avid runner has never done, to this extent. He's run 100 miles a week for a few years now.

But on this trip, he plans to run 26 to 30 miles per day, totaling about 4,800 miles through 12 states along the American Discovery Trail. He's brought 16 pairs of shoes with him, as a way to try to prevent injury.

His friend, Steve Wizniak, will follow him in a RV.

"Over the years he’s become a brother to me. He’s been just insane about running since I’ve met him," Wizniak said. "He’s the only one I know that could do it, that’s for sure."

Part of the point of the run, King said, is to suffer and persevere from it. He knows the run will be a trip of adjustments.

"I want to step well outside my comfort zone and get to the point where i’m going to be struggling," he said. "It will be symbolic, no matter what obstacles are in the way, to keep going every day."

He's excited to see new scenes and countless towns, spreading his message and bringing attention to suicide prevention.

"You take it in differently on foot compared to in a car," he said. "I get to slow down and appreciate the sense of time everywhere I go and get to know the people."

King plans to be transparent about the progress of his run. A GPS monitor attached to him will update every 10 minutes to the web with his location. He plans to shoot videos and be diligent on social media as a way to spread the word.

These measures are put in place both to keep himself accountable and to give people a first-hand look at what it's like to do a cross-country run.

"I want to meet as many people as possible who are involved and care about mental illness in general," he said.

Phil King hugs his father Daniel King before startingBuy Photo
Phil King hugs his father Daniel King before starting his cross country run starting from Cape Henlopen State Park on Monday, March 28. (Photo: Justin Odendhal, Staff photo by Justin Odendhal)
In the moments leading up to the start of the run, he embraced his father, Daniel, and they shared some words.

Daniel King worries about the unknown, but knows his son is prepared for the journey. He plans to meet him at least once a month to check in and deliver supplies.

"A 20-mile run, to him, is pretty much a walk in the park," he said. "He’s going to have to kick himself in the butt here and there and I’ll have to give him a kick in the butt either from long distance or closer."

Phil King takes a moment to reflect before startingBuy Photo
Phil King takes a moment to reflect before starting his cross country run from Cape Henlopen State Park on Monday, March 28. (Photo: Justin Odendhal, Staff photo by Justin Odendhal)
Phil King then walked out to the Atlantic Ocean and took out his phone to snap a photo. He stood at its break, embraced a few waves, turned west and ran.

He plans to arrive at the west coast in mid- to late-October.

But for now, he will explore the country by foot for his cause.

"It’s not exactly why I want to be doing something like this, but I couldn’t be more excited," he said. "I know this journey is going to be the time of my life."

On Twitter @JonBleiweis and Facebook at


Want to follow Phil?

Those who want to follow Phil King on his cross country run can do so a number of ways.


Twitter: @RunForLisaKing


Those interested in donating to Run for Lisa King can give directly to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention through Phil’s personal campaign, or help support his cross-country run on his GoFundMe page.