HONOLULU (KHON2) — Lt. Duane Zitta found his calling with the Coast Guard, nearly 17 years ago.
“To help other people and to save lives,” said Zitta.
He helps with search and rescue for the 14th district, which is the Coast Guard’s largest area of responsibility. And when he’s not doing that, his passion for running started when he was a young boy, participating in his mom’s charity event, with his sister.
“And it was a 10K and I ran it in jeans and converse.”
He’s been hooked ever since.
“For me, it gives me freedom. It allows me to escape the daily norm and it’s my outlet, really. And I found that as a young child, and it’s never gone away.”
His passion has grown into a huge helping hand for numerous families. With every race, he raises money for the Coast Guard Foundation’s Fallen Heroes Fund. It helps children whose parents served in the Coast and have died, by providing the kids with money to attend college.
“Ever since 2008 when we had the crash here off Ewa Beach, 6505, I’ve been pretty close with the family of Capt. Tom Nelson and over the years, being able to contribute to his daughter attending college and just knowing the family has been incredible.”
In the past two years alone, Lieutenant Zitta has raised $30,000.
“So knowing that you can make a difference in a family’s life when their loved one has been taken from them tragically is better than anything else I can think of.”
That includes his toughest challenge, the Hurt 100.
“It’s a hundred-mile foot race through the Tantalus Nature Center trails. It’s pretty arduous. It took me 26 hours and 45 minutes to complete.”
He says the people he’s met, and the ones he’s able to help, inspire him to keep pushing, and to keep moving forward.
“No matter what pain or discomfort that I endure during any race, knowing that those families are watching and they’re behind me, helps me get through pretty much anything you can think of.”
He’s not sure what his next event will be.
But with the support of his wife and two kids, he continues to run 10 miles every day, rain or shine.
“Just to contribute as much as I can, as long as my body will allow it.”