WALKING TALL ... If you're in need of inspiration for a New Year's resolution to improve your fitness or inspire others, look no further than Palo Alto firefighter John Preston. The Marine Corps veteran launched on Monday a 625-mile walk to raise awareness of veterans' and first responders' mental health. He'll travel 22 miles a day and carry 22 kilograms (about 50 pounds) to represent the 22 veterans who die by suicide each day. Preston was inspired to take the 28-day journey to honor surviving family members and loved ones. "My goal is to (bring) as many people back to the middle as I can," he said in a video for the campaign. The issue has a personal meaning for Preston, whose brother, a fellow Marine Corps veteran and 20-year police officer, died by suicide after battling post-traumatic stress disorder. Preston, who also copes with PTSD, started his trip at King Plaza outside Palo Alto City Hall, where he led police officers, fellow firefighters and other community members in an energetic chant shared on social media by the police department: "Your life! One life! My life! Your life! We're gonna finish this!" "You are rightfully putting the spotlight on suicide rather than allowing it to stay in the shadows," Police Chief Robert Jonsen said at the kick-off event, where Fire Chief Geoffrey Blackshire also made remarks. Over the next few weeks, Preston will travel down the California coast with the intention of connecting with people along the way to the USS Midway in San Diego, which he plans to reach by Feb. 9. On the first three days of his trip, Preston made stops in Campbell, Scotts Valley and Watsonville, where police officers and firefighters from other agencies greeted him. For updates on his trek, visit 22andyou.net.
PACKING THE PATIO... In a sea of San Francisco 49ers fans throughout the Bay Area rooting on their home team, which is playing in the NFC Championship game this Sunday, supporters of the opposing team, the Green Bay Packers are preparing to huddle up for a pep rally this Saturday at 6 p.m. in Palo Alto. The Wisconsin team will be hosting a "Packers Everywhere" event at The Patio in downtown Palo Alto with Green Bay Packers President and CEO Mark Murphy, who will greet fans and take part in a Q-and-A session with sportscaster Wayne Larrivee, who gives play-by-play radio reports on the team. Stanford University alumnus James Lofton, a former Green Bay wide receiver, and former Packers quarterback Lynn Dickey are also scheduled to attend the rally. The team will be giving away a helmet signed by current Packers nose tackle Kenny Clark and a jersey signed by placekicker Mason Crosby, among other prizes. For more information on the rally, visit packers.com.
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