FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (WTVD) -- A former Fort Bragg soldier is carrying on the legacy of his best friend, who took his own life back in 2015, by holding the 5th Annual Man 22 Suicide Awareness Run on Saturday morning.
Enrique Murillo has the names of several fallen soldiers stitched onto his bulletproof vest. Each one of somebody he knew personally or had made contact with before they passed; the Army veteran is no stranger to loss.
"This personally affects me, not only because of those friends, but because I have been there, I have experienced it," Murillo said.
Murillo served 11 years in the Army. He tells ABC11 he deployed five times, being injured in battle during his fourth deployment. After he got out of the military, Murillo says his demons followed him home.
"Everything you've worked for 11 years and all you know is how to ranger or SF. That gets taken away from you - you're going to go into a depression state," Murillo said.
While living in Fayetteville, Murillo became best friends with another fellow veteran by the name of Barry Barker. Murillo says Barker was a paratrooper with the 82nd Airborne Division. Barker, who struggled with his own demons, took his own life in 2015, becoming a wake up call for Murillo.
"I said, 'hey, I'm going to change my life around and do something'. Once I got myself out of trouble, I was going to create something, and I did," Murillo added.
That was the creation of the suicide awareness run. Instead of just doing 22 push-ups or pull-ups, the number 22 representing the amount of veterans who take their own lives a day, Murillo decided to make it more challenging, gathering a group of people to run 2.22 miles in 2016.
"It started off with 55 people. The second year was 80 people, third year was 300, last year was 450," Murillo exclaimed.
Murillo says Saturday's event will be even more special because Barker's family will be traveling all the way from Seattle to attend, a promise Barker's mother made to Murillo, if there was a 5th annual run.
They've already raised more than $5,000, which Murillo says they intend to divide between five organizations in the Fayetteville area who help with suicide prevention and other veteran resources.
The event will start at 11:30 a.m. at PK's Airpark at 155 Airport Drive in Raeford. The run is free and no sign up is required, but you can purchase merchandise to help support the cause. After the 2.22 mile run, participants will also complete 22 push-ups.
Veteran welcomes 5th annual suicide awareness run to honor best friend, Fort Bragg soldier
FORT BRAGG NEWS