Dozens of local police officers and others joined veteran Brendan O’Toole for a ceremonial run through Wilmington after his last attempt ended in an assault last week.
O’Toole, a former Marine, has spent the past year running across the country to raise money for veterans. His effort was interrupted last Wednesday when he was punched in the head by an angry spectator while running through Wilmington.
“He got in front of me, I believe I said ‘Hey, how you doing?’ and I put my head down to do what I do and next thing I knew I was airborne. He knocked the socks off my feet and I took a pretty good crack to the head,” O’Toole explained. “I shook it off, and he went running.”
O’Toole received a cut on his head and suffered a concussion. He had to take a few days off to recover.
Wilmington Police detectives went through hours of surveillance tapes and identified the suspect, 21-year-old Garry Beauford of Chester, PA. Beauford was charged with assault.
Wilmington Police Chief Christine Dunning said the department organized the run so the city could give O’Toole a proper send-off. “This is to help encourage folks that live in the city here. I’ve lived almost my whole life here in the city, so we want to see it prosper and the bad deed of this person reverted to something positive,” said Dunning.
O’Toole said he has no hard feelings about the First State, and he’s thankful for the outpouring of support.
“I have no qualms or bad feelings about Wilmington or Delaware, I’m just really thankful everyone helped as much as possible and made a lot of noise, and we’ll see what happens the rest of the trip to New England,” he said.
O’Toole’s next stop is Philadelphia followed by stops in New Jersey and New York City. His goal is to make it to Portland, Maine by Veteran’s Day.
“It’s an honor to actually see this gentleman run through,” said Wilmington resident Ethel Bernhard who was among the many spectators this morning. “He started all the way out in California to raise money for the vets, and it’s sad that he got accosted in our wonderful city of Wilmington, Delaware.”
Throughout the 3,600 mile journey, O’Toole has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for vets and their families.
You can follow O’Toole’s journey through his website, www.TheRunForVeterans.org