Former Marine, soldier traveling to raise awareness about veterans suicides helps rescue kidnapping victim


Darren Hafford, an Army and Marine Corps veteran, nears the end of a fundraiser to do 50 push-ups in all 50 state capitals to raise awareness about combat veteran suicides. While in Topeka, Kan. On Thursday, August 19, 2021, he provided a tip to the Topeka Police Department that helped rescue an 86-year-old woman who was kidnapped. (Screenshot from YouTube)

TOPEKA, Kan. (Tribune News Service) – An 86-year-old woman abducted by a stranger on Thursday evening in downtown Topeka was rescued and her captor arrested over a tip provided by a veteran of the Army and Marine Corps traveling across the country doing push-ups to raise awareness about veteran suicides, police said.

Tipster Darren Hafford around 8:55 p.m. Thursday saw a man enter the driver’s side of a vehicle in the 800 block of SW Harrison, said Gretchen Spiker, public relations specialist for the Topeka Police Department.

Hafford called police after noticing a woman in the vehicle appeared to be in distress as the man walked away with her in the passenger seat, Spiker said.

Police located the vehicle, woman and man shortly thereafter nearby in the 300 block of SW 10th Avenue, she said. The woman was not injured.

“TPD would like to thank Hafford for immediately stepping in to help a stranger in need,” said Spiker.

No formal charges had been laid against the driver of the car, 54, who was being held on $ 10,000 bail Friday afternoon in the Shawnee County Jail on one count of kidnapping. aggravated burglary, theft, assault and driving. on a suspended license.

A GoFundMe page maintained by Hafford, a Dallas resident and Army and Marine Corps veteran, says he’s nearing the end of a fundraiser he started July 4 in Austin, Texas.

As part of this fundraiser, Hafford plans to do 50 push-ups in 50 U.S. capitals in 50 days to raise awareness and fund the fight against veteran suicide, according to the GoFundMe page.

The website for his fundraiser, said Topeka was the 47th stop for Hafford, who then planned to do 50 push-ups in state capitals Friday in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, Saturday in Juneau, Alaska, and Sunday in Honolulu, Hawaii.

Half of the money raised will go to One Tribe Foundation, which provides advice to military veterans and first responders, according to Hafford’s GoFundMe page.

The other half will go to “help pay for gas, food, coffee and a hotel room here and there when I can afford it,” this page said.

He said Hafford on Friday raised $ 4,955 of his goal of $ 10,000.

Hafford did 50 push-ups early Friday morning at the Oklahoma City Capitol and planned to catch later today flights that would take him from Dallas to Alaska, according to a video posted to his personal Facebook page.

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