GRAND ISLAND—Former American Ninja Warrior Contestant and child abuse survivor Christian Griffith is currently running across the United States, 3,000 miles to be exact, to speak out against child abuse, to raise awareness, and raise funds to help support children.
Griffith was sexually abused as a young teenager and never knew what options were available to him. As an adult, he now uses his project Run2Heal to raise awareness about abuse and to break the silence and stigma that surrounds talking about child abuse.
To help provide the platform for discussion throughout the country, the ultra-endurance athlete left New York City on March 19 and plans to run 30 miles a day, five days a week, to later end in San Francisco on August 23. Griffith ran through Nebraska this past week and visited with KCNI/KBBN while taking a break in Grand Island.
“I’m running 3,000 miles to really bring awareness and raise money for Help for Children which is an organization that actually provides grant money to other local organizations who are actively working toward the prevention and treatment of child abuse,” Griffith said.
The global foundation Help for Children was established in 1998 with the mission of preventing and treating child abuse. Over the past 20 years, the organization has distributed more than $51 million in grants to organizations that protect and heal children. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that one in four U.S. children experience some form of child abuse in their lifetimes.
Griffith said running 3,000 seems insurmountable but his purpose for continuing the conversation about abuse is worth the difficult journey. He said he is eager to get up and run 30 miles every day if it means somebody will hear his message and be inspired to seek treatment of his/her own. Griffith said treatment and healing is the only way to move forward and that coping mechanisms cannot get rid of the burden.
“My message to other abuse victims—whether it’s sexual abuse, whether it’s physical abuse, whether it’s verbal abuse or emotional abuse, it’s all abuse and—we’ve all been through it and you can’t take it away. Just like an alcoholic can’t become an un-alcoholic or a drug addicts can’t become an un-drug addict, we need treatment, we need to heal. We’ve suffered trauma,” Griffith said.
“And, you know, if you’re out there and you’ve suffered through some level of abuse, I just urge you to please get your thoughts together, to talk to someone that you love and trust because all the things that you fear, the reason you’re not talking about it, the labels that you hear, or your fear of breaking up your family, or creating drama or strife in your family, or no one believing you, or all the other things that we come up with to not tell our story, all of those things, you know what, they’re never going to come to fruition. What’s going to happen is you’re going to be surrounded by love and support. The people that love you are going to want to help you.”
The route Run2Heal will take Christian across includes New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Colorado, Utah, Nevada, and California.