A Manchester man will run 334 miles across Iowa as a fundraiser for the family of an Anamosa Penitentiary corrections officer killed in a March 23 attack at the prison.
Ryan Miller, who is also a corrections officer at Anamosa, will begin his run in Sioux City Friday, June 4 and will finish in Dubuque Saturday, June 12, with all money raised going to the Robert McFarland Family Fund, in honor of McFarland.
Also killed in the attack was penitentiary nurse, Lorena Schulte.
Miller knew both McFarland and Schulte. “Robert was a guy who was very good at his job, great with training. He knew people and took time out to help you. And Lorena was an awesome woman. Her life’s purpose was service to others and she was very good at what she did.”
Miller said he has a goal to raise $20,000 that would go toward McFarland’s family, perhaps for a trip. “I came up with the idea, that since they have lots of memorials, to think of something positive, something fun. So, I want to raise enough to send Robert’s family on a vacation anywhere in the world. They can go where ever they want or maybe someplace Robert wanted to go to but never got the chance. They can go and bond as a family.”
Miller hopes his trip will also raise awareness about the state’s department of corrections. “Our department is kind of the forgotten department within law enforcement. Prisons are something you probably don’t give a lot of thought to unless you know someone who works there or someone who is incarcerated there.”
Miller said good work gets done at prisons. “A lot of men and women choose this as their career. They do a lot of hard work, a lot of good work. A lot of our incarcerated individuals re-insert back into our communities. There is a lot of work that goes into that rehabilitation.”
Miller said that while a run across Iowa is a bit unusual, it could be just the kind of event that draws attention to that work. He also admits that before he took up serious distance running four years ago, he didn’t envision a day he’d run across the entire state.
“I began running at the track at school. I made it around one lap and was gassed. I tried for two the next day, then it was on to trying a 5K.”
Miller has one marathon under his belt since those early days. In his run across the state, he’ll run 40 miles most days, which comes out to being a bit more than a marathon and a half.
He expects to run through Manchester Thursday, June 10. That day’s leg, along old Highway 20, will begin in Jesup, then go through Independence, Winthrop, Masonville, Manchester and end in Earlville.
While he doesn’t know exactly when he’ll arrive in Manchester that day, he’s hoping people turn out to cheer him on or run a few miles with him.
“I would love to see a bunch of people come out to see me when I run through Manchester. If they want, I invite them to run a few miles with me.”
Miller said those who wish to donate may do so through a link at visonrunner.org. That link will also provide updates on Miller’s progress during the week. He hopes to add real-time tracking that will give people an idea of what time of day he’ll be going through Manchester.
Regardless of what time Miller comes through town, he hopes people will remember why he’s running.
“With what happened at the prison, it puts a different perspective on life. This is something I figured could get some attention and maybe we could do some good.”