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Franklin Regional grad asks endurance athletics community to rally behind district

Doug Gulasy
| Wednesday, April 16, 2014, 9:00 p.m.
Marathon swimmer Darren Miller of Delmont uses his website, darren-miller.com, to allow viewers to follow his swimming feats and to make donations to his charity, Team Forever, to benefit UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh.
Eric Schmadel  |  Tribune-Review
Marathon swimmer Darren Miller of Delmont uses his website, darren-miller.com, to allow viewers to follow his swimming feats and to make donations to his charity, Team Forever, to benefit UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh. Eric Schmadel | Tribune-Review

Darren Miller woke up on Sunday — his 31st birthday — with the idea of doing something to honor both America and his alma mater.

He's now hoping to turn that first idea into something bigger.

Miller, a 2001 Franklin Regional graduate and a world-class endurance athlete who last summer became the first American man to complete the Ocean's Seven challenge, decided to run 22 miles on Sunday in honor of the 22 victims from last week's knife attack at Franklin Regional High School.

He later reached out on Facebook to his friends in the endurance athletics community from around the world, asking them to complete an activity that featured the number 22: “a 22-mile cycle, 2200m swim, 2.2km walk or a 22-mile kayak.”

“There's just a lot of people scared, and a lot of kids who don't really know where to turn,” said Miller, who now lives in Delmont and works as a professional speaker. “If there's a way I can leverage what I've gone through to try to in some way motivate and inspire them to keep going and be resilient and persevere, (I'll do it). We're all in this together.”

Miller said he decided to take an American flag with him on the run.

He traveled 11 miles along routes 22 and 66 into downtown Greensburg, where he completed a swim workout at the YMCA before running the 11 miles back to his house.

“I got a lot of great horn blasts and calls of ‘Semper Fi' and ‘U-S-A!'” Miller said.

“After I put it on Facebook, a bunch of people said they saw me. Again, it's to raise the spirits of a community that has been broken. Through each and every one of us trying to do something to raise the spirits, we're going to get through this together.”

As of Monday, Miller said he had received responses to his request from endurance athletes in Poland, Finland, South Africa in addition to the United States.

Miller said he was working on a larger-scale project, “a run for hope,” to support the four student victims who were still hospitalized as of Tuesday. He hoped to get flags signed by members of the community and take them to Forbes Regional Hospital in Monroeville, where three victims remained, and then run with another flag to UPMC Presbyterian in Oakland, where junior Jared Boger remained hospitalized.

He said the idea was still in the preliminary stage on Monday.

“I kind of have that vision of running down the Parkway being escorted by local fire departments, EMTs, police (or) whoever we can get to do it,” Miller said.

“I would love to do something like that, taking that endurance athletic approach to see if we can motivate people.”

Doug Gulasy is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him 412-388-5830, via email at dgulasy@tribweb.com or via Twitter @dgulasy_Trib.

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