DISA analyst turns 44 miles into $12k for military mental health charity

By Renee Hatcher
Office of Strategic Communication and Public Affairs
May 18, 2022 

Neighbors, friends, co-workers and family support Kyle Butters during his 22 Miles to Break Boundaries event April 22-24 in Pasadena, Maryland.
Neighbors, friends, co-workers and family support Kyle Butters during his 22 Miles to Break Boundaries event April 22-24 in Pasadena, Maryland.

 

“When you do crazy stuff, people pay attention,” said Kyle Butters, a contract support analyst at DISA who recently ran 44 miles to raise money and awareness for military mental health issues.

Butters, a retired Army captain, said running his 22 Miles to Break Boundaries event was a natural choice for him to draw attention to the Infinite Hero Foundation, an organization created in 2012 to fund programs that help treat military veterans and their families who are dealing with service-related mental and physical injuries.

“Last year, I saw research that found that more than 30,000 active-duty personnel and veterans who served in the military after 9/11 have died by suicide,” Butters said. “The bottom line is, this must change, and I do not feel enough attention is given to the problem. I ran knowing that with each step, the money raised will go to support brain health and suicide prevention programs.”

Butters said he chose a running event because many veterans face physical challenges as a result of injuries sustained during service, and he loves running.

“I feel it is a privilege and obligation to use my physical abilities to support them,” he said. “I’ve lost military friends to both combat and suicide, and this is a way for me to contribute to the mental health fight that so many of us veterans go through.”

Butters began running Friday, April 22 at noon. He completed five, four-mile loops and a two-mile loop around his Pasadena, Maryland, neighborhood by midday Saturday. With the first round of 22 miles completed, Butters began another four-mile loop at 4 p.m. Saturday with four more loops to follow at 8 p.m., midnight, and 4 and 8 a.m. Sunday. He closed out the 44 miles in 48 hours with a two-mile loop at noon Sunday, April 24.

Butters maintained a swift and steady pace completing each four-mile loop in about 40 minutes. Sleeping only about nine of the 48 hours, and struggling to take in the necessary nutrition for such an effort, Butters said he hit a wall between miles 30-34 due to sleep deprivation and dehydration.

“When it gets hard, I am motivated to push through to prove to myself and others that you can push beyond what you think is possible and achieve what you may think is impossible,” Butters said. “When it’s tough, I also rely on my support crew a lot and this demonstrates that whether the fight is mental or physical, none of us is alone and it takes a team to get through tough times.”

 Kyle Butters carries a U.S. flag during his first four-mile lap of his 22 Miles to Break Boundaries event April 22. He also carried the flag on the pole during his last lap closing out 44 miles in 48 hours. On all the other laps, the flag was folded in his pack on his back. Butters acquired this flag at his first duty station in Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and it has been with him on all his active-duty missions around the world including Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, and Kandahar, Afghanistan.
Kyle Butters carries a U.S. flag during his first four-mile lap of his 22 Miles to Break Boundaries event April 22. He also carried the flag on the pole during his last lap closing out 44 miles in 48 hours. On all the other laps, the flag was folded in his pack on his back. Butters acquired this flag at his first duty station in Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and it has been with him on all his active-duty missions around the world including Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, and Kandahar, Afghanistan.

22 Miles to Break Boundaries was a community event with about 350 people participating in various ways throughout the weekend. Some of Butters’ teammates from DISA’s Defense Spectrum Organization, including Bridgette Garcia and Howard McDonald, joined him for some miles. Although not a runner, McDonald wanted to support Butters and rode a bike next to him for the first four miles.

“Kyle’s commitment to the cause is inspiring,” said McDonald, DSO’s Advanced Access Initiatives Branch chief, who recently was able to help someone going through a crisis.

“Kyle reached out to me to offer his support as he knows firsthand the challenges of maintaining good mental health and the need to help those going through their personal challenges.” McDonald said. “He was putting forth a herculean effort for this run, and I wanted to show up and help him get through it.”

Garcia, a program analyst in DSO at DISA, ran the first two miles with Butters and then walked two more miles with her fiancée after work.

“Mental health, particularly veterans’ mental health, is an important cause,” Garcia said. “This was a great reminder that the hardest part of doing anything, is convincing yourself you can do it. This is where support comes into the equation. Sometimes we need it; sometimes we give it.”

Like many, Garcia has family members who served in the military. She said some have never talked about their experiences.

“People generally don’t talk about the importance of mental health and how emotional support factors in,” Garcia said. “I’m glad Kyle is working to raise awareness on the topic. Just starting the conversation is a huge step in the right direction.”

 Kyle Butters’ wife and two kids help tick off his 12 loops with flag duct tape during the 22 Miles to Break Boundaries event April 22-24 in Pasadena, Maryland.
Kyle Butters’ wife and two kids help tick off his 12 loops with flag duct tape during the 22 Miles to Break Boundaries event April 22-24 in Pasadena, Maryland.

There were about 30 other family members, friends and co-workers who also joined Butters throughout the weekend by running, walking or biking with him. His father-in-law, Bill Goodman, drove from Illinois to support Butters. He walked 25 miles and ran two, which were the first miles he had run in more than a decade. Butters’ father, sister, daughter and son each participated as well. And, this was the first time since high school that his wife ran more than a mile.

“It was incredible to see the support I had this year from so many, and have team members from DSO join in on my journey,” Butters said. “I learned that more people are paying attention than I thought.”

This was the second year for Butters’ fundraising run. Last year, he raised about $7,500; this year, he raised more than $12,000. Butters said he is already planning for the run again next year and hopes to have even more participants and more money to donate to the Infinite Hero Foundation.

“The funds raised by Kyle will provide veterans access to personalized recuperative programs that are proven to be effective in treating depression, PTSD, [traumatic brain injury], and suicidal ideation,” said Courtney Janes, Infinite Hero Foundation executive director.

Donors can still make a difference for soldiers suffering from service-related mental health challenges by going online to contribute to the Infinite Hero Foundation.

Kyle Butters crosses the finish line of his 22 Miles to Break Boundaries event April 24 carrying the U.S. flag that has been his constant companion since he joined the Army in 2009.
Kyle Butters crosses the finish line of his 22 Miles to Break Boundaries event April 24 carrying the U.S. flag that has been his constant companion since he joined the Army in 2009.




If you or someone you know is in crisis and thinking about attempting suicide, seek immediate attention.
Call your doctor’s office.

  • Call 911 for emergency services.
  • Go to the nearest hospital emergency room.
  • Call the toll-free, 24-hour hotline of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255) to be connected to a trained counselor at a suicide crisis center nearest you.
  • Visit the Veterans Crisis Line website and chat online with trained counselors, many of whom are veterans who understand the challenges service members and their loved one’s face; or text 838255.Ask a family member or friend to help you make these calls or take you to the hospital.


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