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Clinton County veteran conquered 63 miles during latest No One Fights Alone Walk

Sgt. Ryan Hayslip, left, began his 24-hour walk with support by family and friends
Lorena Beniquez
Sgt. Ryan Hayslip, left, began his 24-hour walk with support by family and friends.

Ryan Hayslip’s third day-long walk to help veterans started under cloudy and windy conditions.

His family’s and friends’ support warmed the way.

Hayslip, 43, an Avis resident, trekked for 24 hours in damp air or falling rain, weather he called a “blessing.”

“It (rain) keeps us cool and keeps us not sweating as bad,” Hayslip said. “I just feel more energy having a little bit of rain out here … We had to change our socks a bit more than we normally would have because of the weather but I feel great.”

The Iraq War veteran even broke his personal record during his latest No One Fights Alone Walk. 

Former Army Sgt. Hayslip walked or ran 63 miles, 21 laps, over 24 hours Friday and Saturday to raise awareness of veteran and first responder mental health issues. Hayslip’s record was about 60 miles last year. 

The walk started along the Susquehanna River Walk near Hepburn Street in Williamsport and looped to South Williamsport’s side. Almost 20 people joined Hayslip at the start. 

Hayslip started the walk three years ago. Overcoming his bouts with post traumatic stress disorder motivated him to help other veterans. (Read more about Hayslip’s mental health journey.)

This year had the biggest turnout yet. Local mental health organizations pitched about a dozen tents and highlighted programs for veterans and first responders and addiction services. Among them were the veterans affairs offices of Clinton and Lycoming counties, the Genesis House, Williamsport Vet Center, UPMC and others. 

“Each year it keeps getting bigger and bigger and bigger. Last year, I didn't have a need for big tents like this. We had three 10 by 10 tents set up and one little camper that I had for us. That's it. Each year, it's just growing so much,” he said. 

Hayslip’s biggest stress was leading up to the walk. Once his legs began moving, he was relieved. 

“Once I start walking, I don't get stressed too much. Running and walking is like meditation for me. When I get up there, it's peaceful and I just go and don't even realize it,” Hayslip said. 

Some walked with Hayslip during the day. Others walked late into the rainy night. Some walked all 24 hours.

“I'd say there were probably a good 10 to 12 people here at about midnight. Then a couple of people faded off at about one o'clock. A couple more people faded off and then about three o'clock, three or four more people faded off. Then it got down to three of us,” Hayslip said. 

Veterans, first responders, family members and others joined him. That included his brother-in-law, Joe Warren, who served four years as an Army infantryman. 

Hayslip supported Warren in his PTSD battle. 

“It's a good way to test ourselves and try to get the word out there. Ryan's given me a lot of direction as my brother-in-law, dealing with my issues with PTSD. He's been very encouraging in that, and this is a great way to show that appreciation,” Warren said.

Chase Bottorf is a graduate of Lock Haven University and holds a bachelor's degree in English with a concentration in writing. Having previously been a reporter for the Lock Haven news publication, The Express, he is aware of the unique issues in the Lycoming County region, and has ties to the local communities.

You can email Chase at chasebottorf@wvia.org