MESA, Arizona — Many of us run for fun, for health, or, every once in a while, a medal at the finish line. For two Army veterans, a run across the country has one end-goal: raising money to help fellow warriors.
The two veterans are traveling coast-to-coast, roughly 2,800 miles. Paul Borsuk runs about 25 miles per day while his best friend, Chris Malasig, follows close behind in his car. They began the trek on Feb. 8 in Modesto, California and hope to finish in Savannah, Georgia by June 30.
“I wish I had a simple answer, like ‘Forrest Gump,'” Borsuk joked. “I wanted to do something different. I’m transitioning from the military and wanted to remind myself I’m an individual.”
Borsuk and Malasig passed through Phoenix this week. Before they left the Valley, they stopped at an Oakland A’s spring training game where Borsuk threw the first pitch.
“Sorry, I’m not a Diamondbacks fan. I grew up as an A’s fan,” Borsuk joked.
For Borsuk, all the planning and organizing of the run is worth it to raise funds for the Wounded Warrior Project. He wants to help veterans like himself rejoin civilian life.
“I consider my soldiers, my heroes,” Borsuk said.
Malasig doesn’t just follow along. He’s Borsuk’s logistical support.
“I’m the guy that takes care of logistics — make sure he’s topped off on water, has food,” he said.
Malasig also scouts the road ahead for Borsuk, keeping an eye out specifically for “dirt, mud, dogs or bees.”
The pair grew up in Pittsburg, California, a town 40 miles northeast of San Francisco. They’ve been friends since high school.
Malasig knows firsthand the obstacles veterans face after leaving the military. He deals with daily chronic pain from an injury.
“We both had a pretty rough time (transitioning),” Malasig said. “For other veterans too and raising money for them is really going to be good.”