Thirty-one miles. Thirty-one long miles is the distance Mitch Kriebel, U.S. Army master sergeant, is determined to trail run in New Auburn, Wisconsin, all the while carrying 35 pounds; every step remembering Kittitas County Sheriff’s Deputy Ryan Thompson.

Kriebel’s goal is to raise $2,000 and to donate all the proceeds to the Thompson and Benito Chavez family. Thompson was killed and Chavez injured on March 19 by Juan Manuel Flores Del Toro in an incident that started with the officers responding to a report of road rage.

“I got hooked on the notion that at this point in my life, in the rank I am, it’s time to give back to the folks that really helped me make it through the hard times,” Kriebel said. “So when I heard Deputy Thompson was killed I looked for the first march I could find.”

Kriebel feels the runs are one way he can show solidarity to the men and women who have died. Kriebel said he’d run eight times the mileage if it was humanly possible for him to do so.

“My opportunity to give back is worth twice the mileage, eight times the mileage that I’m going to put in Saturday,” Kriebel said.

Kriebel has a Thin Blue Line flag that is being passed from county to county state to state, showing the true amount of pride, respect and honor officers have, toward their community and fellow officers. Kriebel plans on giving this flag to Kittitas Police Officer Benito Chavez to remind him there are people thousands of miles away who care about him and are there to support him on his journey to recovery.

Kriebel is a 15-year veteran and served as an airborne infantry for the Army. During one of his tours in Afghanistan, Kriebel broke his back. Despite his injury, Kriebel refused to let it define or prevent him from pushing his body to its limits.

“I have had so many friends and service members who never made it back. … I can’t have an excuse to let that hold me back,” Kriebel said.

This will be Kriebel’s fourth race running with a rucksack. The most recent being “The Bataan Death March” in March at the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico. For that race Kriebel raised $5,000, some money went to aid transportation cost while the large majority was donated to Wounded Warriors and Veteran Programs.

As a military service member, Kriebel said there’s a connection and unspoken understanding within departments like police officers and public safety members because they choose every day to put their lives ahead of their own for others.

Originally from Garfield/Belmont area in Washington, Kriebel said when he heard the news about Deputy Thompson the news hit home.

“It really just sunk my heart a little bit because my dad was a reserve cop in a tiny little town and I know that everybody knew those officers,” Kriebel said. “Small communities get behind each other so much and I mean, that’s how I raised all this money.”

According to Kriebel, he has noticed in his fundraising the money raised for causes doesn’t come from some big outside source but rather is donated by little communities.

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