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This is Home - Man runs in shark costume for jawsome cause

Reed Byers is raising money for West Virginia's Hike for Hope
Reed Byers is raising money for West Virginia's Hike for Hope(WTAP)
Published: Apr. 9, 2021 at 6:00 PM EDT
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PARKERSBURG, W.Va. (WTAP) - Seeing a shark running down the streets of Parkersburg is becoming more and more common.

This is Home - Man runs in shark costume for jawsome cause

Have you wondered why there is a rogue shark running the street of Parkersburg? Well... here's your answer.

Posted by Brittany Morgan on Friday, April 9, 2021

“A lot of times, people are surprised,” explained Reed Byers, the infamous running shark. “They’re like ‘what is this guy out here doing? Is he crazy? Has he lost his mind? Why am I seeing a shark in the middle of Parkersburg?’”

Byers began running just over a year ago and started racing last fall. The shark costume came into play when he competed in a costume race last Halloween. Since then, Byers took his exercise to the next level by jogging around the Mid-Ohio Valley in costume. While the smiles, waves, and honks have been rewarding, the purpose of the spectacle is more than just fin deep.

“I’m a volunteer for the American foundation for suicide prevention’s West Virginia Hike for Hope,” he said. “I’ve been raising money for that cause for a while now, and to raise money, I pledged to run miles per dollars donated. After I met my goal, I extended the offer to run some of those miles in a shark costume. So the shark costume has raised a couple thousand dollars for suicide prevention.”

To further spread his message, Byers is planning to run a few of his 190 shark miles in each state.

“I lost my best friend Charles Valley Smith to a heroin overdose about five years ago, and I lost my brother two years ago to a heroin overdose,” Byers disclosed. “It’s hard for me right? Because I wish that they would be able to see me here … This has been my opportunity to kind of share my story of loss with my brother and my best friend and then my overcoming addiction, and the reason that I now run in a shark costume.”

On top of it all, Byers adds that he wanted to share the positive impact that physical activity can have in all aspects of life.

“Running gets a bad rap of being hard. And running is hard. For me running has been a super integral part of my recovery. Running helps me more than just maintain my sobriety. It helps me to feel strong mentally and physically. It helps me supplement my achievement. When I wake up in the morning and I can go run, I feel like I can tackle the day. I feel like a better friend and a better person because I run. So, me getting out there in the shark costume, I hope it inspires others to see that running isn’t just hard, but that it can be fun and maybe they’ll get some of the benefits of running that I’ve experienced in my life.”

The West Virginia Hike for Hope will take place on May 22 at Coopers Rock in Bruceton Mills, W.Va.

More information, including how to donate, can be found on the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s website.

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