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From liver transplant to marathon, a veteran’s journey to the finish line

By Tahleel Mohieldin

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    MILWAUKEE, Wisconsin (WTMJ) — Before the hugs and congratulations at the finish line, John Allision had a clear mission at the Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon Sunday.

Allison’s goal was to help raise awareness for veteran suicide and after finding an outlet for his own mental health struggles he wanted to encourage others to not give up.

“It’s something that’s not every day but it’s something that definitely comes up in not opportune moments,” Allison said. “So, running especially has been kind of a great way for me to keep, keep everything kind of balanced.”

Allison’s journey to the starting line Sunday was anything but typical from injuries sustained while on active to a full liver transplant in 2020.

He said following an IED blast in 2011 while serving in Afghanistan he was left with more than physical injuries but through the depression and PTSD he started walking and then running,

Johns parents Chuck and Beth Allision made the driver to Milwaukeee from Clam Lake to see him run his first marathon and they’re in awe of their sons drive.

“Very inspirationally he’s really put his life in a whole exciting track,” Chuck said “To see that happen given what he’s been through is—I’m almost speechless.”

Allison said it was the loss of a good friend in his platoon who died by suicide, that pushed him on this journey to run a marathon. After participating in a 22 project run, which works to heal the invisible wounds of war, he wanted to do more.

“It was just really nice to actually find something I felt was me putting in effort everyday, reminding me about the military, discipline and accountability,” he said. “It’s just been something that’s been a total game changer as far as my mental health goes.”

To make sure he was marathon ready Allison said he averaged about 30 miles a week, but wants people to know for him it started with one step, then another, and another.

So as he made it through the finish line, Allison said his joy at a job complete was made better by his hope that his journey might inspire others.

“Very happy that I can let all my military buddies now: it’s one day at a time,” he said. “You could go from liver transplant, you could go from being bed-ridden, you can go from battling with drugs and alcohol it doesn’t matter you can actually change your own life around.”

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