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Families workout to support veterans with mental illness

Fit and Grit hosted 22 Degrees, an event to support Mission 22.
Published: Nov. 6, 2021 at 6:45 PM CDT|Updated: Nov. 6, 2021 at 7:24 PM CDT
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MANKATO, Minn. (KEYC) - Families got moving in Sibley Park Saturday, but the series of push-ups and jumping jacks wasn’t just an average workout. It was a fight against mental illness.

“We’re looking to really promote veteran mental health and bring awareness to the suicide rate among veterans,” said Ashley Kuepmer, co-owner of Fit and Grit Training.

Fit and Grit hosted its first ever 22 Degrees event in support of Mission 22 Mankato, which helps veterans battling PTSD and other mental illnesses.

“It really does take a village to combat not only suicide but mental health in general,” added Loren Files, Minnesota State Leader for Mission 22.

22 symbolizes the average number of service members who commit suicide each day in the United States.

Ashley mentioned, “It’s ridiculously high, and there’s a lot of issues revolving around veteran mental health and them getting the services they need.”

Fit and Grit co-owner Matt Kuemper knows firsthand the importance of helping veterans push through hard times.

Matt said, “I’m a veteran myself. Any way that we could use our business to give back, we’ve always been looking for things that we can do.”

Fit and Grit hosts weekly workouts at the base of Sibley’s sledding hill, but 22 Degrees was much more than its usual 45-minute session.

Families danced to a DJ, enjoyed lunch from a food truck and visited booths with resources from partnering organizations.

“Seeing the entire community get involved and care about this cause is just fantastic,” stated Files.

Fit and Grit hopes to make 22 Degrees an annual event.

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