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'OK not to be OK': Marchers 'ruck' 22 miles to help prevent veteran suicides

John A. Pavoncello
York Dispatch

The Bartz Brigade has a very special slogan: "It's OK not to be OK."

A group of about a dozen people, led by Bartz Brigade founder Bruce Bartz and the T.O.Y. Bear from Toyota of York, shared that message Sunday while raising money for suicide awareness and prevention while "rucking" — or marching while carrying a load — 22 miles from Susquehannock High School to Eastern York High School.

The nonprofit has been working hard to help those considering suicide, especially veterans, after Bartz's son Trent, a soldier in the Army Reserves, took his own life in 2015.

Dean Lloyd, vice president at Toyota of York, came up with the idea for Sunday's event. Lloyd has taken part in several events dressed in the T.O.Y. Bear outfit and decided to walk 22 miles to support the nonprofit. 

Other area automobile industry businesses soon joined to support the event, including Bob Ruth Ford and Ricke Brothers Auto Group. 

Throughout the ruck, the group stopped every mile and performed 22 push-ups, nearly 500 total for each participant during the event. The event raised more than $22,000 dollars.

The Bartz Brigade completes their 22 mile ruck from Susqueahannock High School to Eastern York High School to raise money and awareness of suicide prevention, Sunday, September 13, 2020.
John A. Pavoncello photo

The T.O.Y. ruck was a kick-off for the Trent 2020 — Ruck for Suicide Prevention being held Saturday at Veterans Memorial Park. Participants can chose to ruck, run or walk a course during the event, and there will be food, music, vendors, awards and speakers, including York County District Attorney Dave Sunday as the keynote speaker. For more information about the event, visit www.bartzbrigade.com

An average of 20 veterans die by suicide each day, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs' National Strategy for Preventing Veteran Suicide.