Every day 22+ Veterans and 1 Active Duty Soldier takes their own lives. The 22 in 22 National/World Challenge started in Delaware by Jacob Di Sabatino, a rising St. Mark’s High School senior, as a way to raise funds and awareness to fight the soldier and veteran suicide crisis. The campaign has gone nationwide and viral on Facebook.
The 22in22 campaign is a fitness fundraiser that asks participants to run, swim, jump or use some form of activity for 22 miles in 22 days. Participants can choose when to start and are encouraged to post photos of their progress on social media using #22in22Challenge and #22adayis22toomany.
Proceeds will go to Stop Soldier Suicide, a nonprofit advocating for the prevention of military suicide founded in 2006 by Brian Kinsella, and veterans Nick Black and Craig Gridelli. Kinsella, a second lieutenant and platoon leader stopped the suicide of a young soldier under his command.
According to the website, “Stop Soldier Suicide is the first national Veteran-founded and led non-profit dedicated to preventing suicide in all branches of the active duty and Veteran community, as well as helping the families of those who reach out.”
The organization is currently soliciting funding in order to expand their Contact Center into a 24/7 operation. They are working to change the way the nation thinks about mental health care and the stigma of receiving treatment.
The 22in22 campaign kicked off on July 4th at Blue Rocks Stadium. Jacob and his father, Brian Di Sabatino, were joined by former boxing champion Dave Tiberi and Steve Masterson, CEO of Waste Masters Solutions.
Masterson, an Air Force veteran and avid supporter of the 22in22 campaign has two children in the Air Force and says that around 15% of his employees are veterans.
Two of Tiberi’s older brothers served in Vietnam and one of them died due to side effects of the war. He currently serves on the board of the Delaware Veterans Foundation.
Some other people who have joined the 22in22 Campaign include Delaware U.S. Senators Tom Carper and Chris Coons; Brigadier General Thomas Weidley of the U.S. Marine Corps; actor Gary, the Blue Rocks, University of Delaware football team and the St. Mark’s football team.
As of today, the website shows that the campaign has raised $12,276 of the $20,000 goal and that it has surpassed the goal of 1,100 miles run. If you would like to join the campaign, sign up here.