Marine Corps and Army veteran Darren Hafford does pushups in front of the Alaska State Capitol as part of a fundraising effort where Hafford is traveling to every state capitol building and doing pushups in front of them to raise awareness and money for veteran suicide prevention. Juneau is his 49th, with only Hawaii remaining. (Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire)

Marine Corps and Army veteran Darren Hafford does pushups in front of the Alaska State Capitol as part of a fundraising effort where Hafford is traveling to every state capitol building and doing pushups in front of them to raise awareness and money for veteran suicide prevention. Juneau is his 49th, with only Hawaii remaining. (Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire)

49 down, 1 to go: Man raising veteran suicide awareness in all 50 state capitals

A whirlwind tour for a worthy cause.

23,222 miles will take you nearly around the circumference of the entire planet. It’ll also take one military veteran to every U.S. state capital as he seeks to raise awareness and money for the veteran suicide crisis present in America’s servicemembers.

And he’ll do it in just 50 days.

Darren Hafford is nearly at the finish line right now, with Juneau as the 49th capital — and capitol — he’s visited, doing 50 pushups in front of each, in under two months.

“I want veterans — or anyone who’s suffering — to seek help,” Hafford said in an interview on the steps of the Alaska State Capitol in downtown Juneau on Saturday afternoon. “It can change a life, it can save a life.”

[St. Vincent planning for future as it undertakes long-deferred maintenance]

Hafford served in the Marine Corps in the ‘90s, and later in the Army National Guard as a military policeman and public affairs specialist, he said. The idea of doing pushups to raise awareness for veteran suicide — a number of trends emerged in the last decade on the theme of 22 — but Hafford said for a time he’d do 44, to reflect the nature of his two-branch service history.

“About a year ago, I decided to do 50 pushups in front of 50 capitols,” Hafford said.

After postponing for a year due to the pandemic, Hafford began on the Fourth of July in Austin, Texas.

“I wanted to do the hardest drive first. It was 16 hours to Phoenix,” Hafford said. “Texas was so long to get through.”

After losing the vehicle’s air conditioning during the first day, Hafford said, a mechanic in Nevada fixed it for free after hearing about the goal of the drive.

“The first 16 states were more driving than the other 32 combined,” Hafford said. “The second part wasn’t so bad.”

After his vehicle briefly broke while in the Northeast, Hafford was able to push through and make it back to Dallas, including involvement with preventing an attempted kidnapping in Topeka, Kansas. Hafford aims to wrap up the tour in Honolulu on Sunday. Hafford said he intends to put together a book and a documentary on his experience.

“I’ve got thousands of photos and hours and hours of driving,” Hafford said. “I don’t know if the audience needs 15 hours of West Texas.”

The funds he raises will go to the One Tribe Foundation, formerly known as 22Kill, which was a veteran suicide awareness organization that expanded its remit to all first-responder communities.

“I heard more stories (about veteran suicide) than I really wanted to hear. It’s a lot more common than you think,” Hafford said. “I’m hoping we can drive down that number. My concern is that we may see that number increase for the next six months to a year because of Afghanistan.”

And where was his favorite of all 49 he’s seen so far?

“The most beautiful capitol was Iowa, which surprised me,” Hafford said.

Want to help?

To read more about the fundraiser or to donate, visit https://50statecapitolsin50days.com.

Marine Corps and Army veteran Darren Hafford talks to watchers in front of the Alaska State Capitol before beginning a push-up set as part of a fundraising effort where Hafford is traveling to every state capitol building and doing pushups in front of them to raise awareness and money for veteran suicide prevention. Juneau is his 49th, with only Hawaii remaining. (Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire)

Marine Corps and Army veteran Darren Hafford talks to watchers in front of the Alaska State Capitol before beginning a push-up set as part of a fundraising effort where Hafford is traveling to every state capitol building and doing pushups in front of them to raise awareness and money for veteran suicide prevention. Juneau is his 49th, with only Hawaii remaining. (Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire)

More in News

A Princess Cruise Line ship is docked in Juneau on Aug. 25, 2021. (Michael Lockett / Juneau Empire File)
Ships in Port for the week of July 3

Here’s what to expect this week.

Mia Halloway (6) grabs a cotton candy with her dad in Savikko Park. A long string of kids stood in line to grab a cotton candy from the Twhrly Whrliy Cotton Candy stand on a bright and sunny Fourth of July afternoon. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire)
Fun and sun mark holiday in Douglas

Hot dogs and panting pups present for festivities.

Rachel Hurst hands her son Benjamin, 4, a beach ball to throw to the crowd from the Hawaiian-themed Juneau Urgent Care float during the July 4 parade in downtown Juneau. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Juneau, the state of the union is festive

Melting pot of states, cultures and colors join in healthy unity for July 4 parade in unique times.

A Coast Guard aircrew and a Good Samaritan vessel rescued four mariners after their boat capsized in Glacier Bay National Park, Alaska, July 1, 2022. (Courtesy photo / USCG)
Good Samaritans rescue 4 after boat capsizes

The boat sank in Glacier Bay National Park.

It's a police car until you look closely and see the details don't quite match. (Juneau Empire File / Michael Penn)
Police calls for Tuesday, July 5, 2022

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

t
Police calls for Saturday, July 2, 2022

This report contains information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Larisa Bishop Boros
This photo available under a Creative Commons license shows a male silver-haired bat captured in Ozark National Scenic Riverways in 2010. A bat found in Douglas tested positive for rabies, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game announced.
Bat found in Douglas tests positive for rabies

No report of rabies exposure to people, according to Department of Fish and Game.

It's a police car until you look closely and see the details don't quite match. (Juneau Empire File / Michael Penn)
Police calls for Friday, July 1, 2022

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Former President Donald Trump speaks at the Road to Majority conference Friday, June 17, 2022, in Nashville, Tenn. A rally planned to include Trump is scheduled to happen in Anchorage on July 9.  (AP Photo / Mark Humphrey File)
Trump to rally for Palin, Dunleavy, Tshibaka in Anchorage

Former President Donald Trump plans to attend a rally in Alaska next week.

Most Read