Flushing native Matthew Fertig is organizing a 120-mile run across Long Island from Nov. 12-13 in an effort to raise money and awareness for the gun reform nonprofit Everytown for Gun Safety. Known as Manhattan to Montauk, a GoFundMe campaign for the run has been created for people to donate.
Now residing in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, Fertig, 22, is using his running experience as a means of drawing attention to groups like Everytown for Gun Safety. He’s been able to combine his passion for supporting gun reform with his love of running.
As of Nov. 3, Fertig has managed to raise over $3,300 for the cause. He’s hopeful that the amount will be over $5,000 by the time the run starts. Ultimately, he’d like to reach the goal set on the GoFundMe of $15,000 by the end of the run, though he also said he’d be very happy to reach $10,000. He also estimated that 10 to 15 people have already signed up to take part in at least one leg of the run.
Everytown for Gun Safety was formed in 2013 for the purpose of educating the public about the detrimental effects of illegal guns in order to reduce gun violence in the United States and to lessen the burdens of government by assisting local governments and law enforcement agencies in their efforts to develop effective policies that would combat illegal guns.
“I’m very proud in how far this event has come so far,” Fertig said. “I’m hoping the larger the participation in the run gets, the more attention Everytown for Gun Safety receives and more money can be raised.”
For Fertig, the issue of gun violence in America hits him close to home. When the Parkland High School shooting occurred in Florida on Feb. 14, 2018, Fertig was in his senior year of high school. He had friends who lived in the area, some of whom attended the school.
“I knew several people who lost friends and family that day,” Fertig said. “Sadly, four years later, we have made little progress in the fight to prevent gun violence and mass shootings in this country. This [charity run] is an event that I’ve wanted to do for a while. I began mapping it out two years ago.”
According to Fertig, he would like to see the federal government pass common sense gun reform. In his opinion, this would include banning the sale of bump stocks and assault rifles, implementing strict background checks on those who wish to purchase a gun and doing more to get ghost guns off the streets.
This run for gun reform won’t mark the first charity run that Fertig has organized. He previously raised over $3,500 for the Syrian American Medical Society when he organized a run in 2018. The purpose of that run was to aid those impacted by the Syrian Civil War. The distance covered during that run was approximately 240 miles, from New York City to Washington D.C.
Fertig’s love of running dates back about a decade. He started running for sport at the age of 12. He began doing long distance running at the age of 15.
Those interested in contacting Fertig in regards to getting involved in the charity run can email him at [email protected]