DESTINY — Army veteran Geoff Speyrer is preparing for another shot at his annual fundraising physical challenge, SET 22.
SET is an acronym for Strength, Endurance and Training while 22 is a reference to veteran suicides. Speyrer, who lives in Destin, started the SET 22 challenge in May 2020, both to fight his own depression and to raise money to help prevent suicide among veterans.
“About 22 veterans commit suicide every day,” Speyrer said. “We want to let people know that there are places to go (for help), that their lives matter.”
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Now in its third year, the SET 22 challenge kicks off at 6:30 p.m. Friday with a meet and greet event at the Legendary Marina and Yacht Club near the foot of the Mid-Bay Bridge. At 8 p.m., Speyrer and a handful of other cyclists will begin the first leg of the three-part challenge: a 100-mile bike ride on a loop that includes US Highway 98 and Scenic Highway 98 in Destin.
Speyrer said he plans to finish the bike ride at 4 a.m. when he returns to Legendary Marina for a short break before leaving around 5 a.m. with some 25 other runners for a marathon through the streets of Destin. .
Speyrer estimates the group will finish the marathon in the early afternoon at Legendary Marina. Beginning around 2 p.m., Speyrer will begin the final part of the challenge: flipping a 200-pound tractor tire 1 mile around the track at Destin Middle School. Of the three parts of the challenge, Speyrer said the tire flip is the most difficult.
“It’s just the stress it puts on your body after being bent over for 7-8 hours on a bike and standing for another 7-8 hours,” he said.
The goal is to complete the entire challenge in 24 hours, but Speyrer notes, “It’s not a question of time for me; it’s about connecting and building relationships with people.
Over the past two years, Speyrer has raised about $30,000 for organizations that work to prevent suicide among American veterans. Proceeds from this year’s event will go to Fort Walton Beach-based Healing Paws for Warriors.
Healing Paws for Warriors, founded by veterans, is a non-profit organization that provides trained service dogs to combat veterans dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury (TBI) and/ or military sexual trauma (STD). Dogs are provided free to veterans, and the organization provides ongoing support.
Speyrer said people are welcome to join him for as little or as much challenge as they want. However, he noted that he only had one tractor tire, so the others have to bring their own tire.
Want to follow the SET 22 challenge? Look for live updates on Speyrer’s Facebook page or his Instagram account @geoffspeyrer.
Want to make a donation? Click here.