Doug Merrill grew up in Bowling Green, Ohio. He graduated from Bowling Green High School in 1989 where he was an average student. After graduation, Doug was unsure of what direction he wanted to take in his life.
After taking a year off to work, Merrill enrolled at Owens Community College where he was a member of the first Owens Community College Baseball Team. Doing only well enough to stay eligible, he withdrew from school after his second year on the team.
In 1997, he returned to Owens with a more focused attitude. His goal was to become a teacher and Owens helped him to reach that goal. In 1999, he transferred to Bowling Green State University. After graduating with a degree in education, he began teaching and coaching at local high schools.
While teaching at Bowling Green High School, the school experienced the suicides of four students, including two baseball players. This was not Merrill's first experience with suicide.
Since the age of 13, Merrill has lost three friends, three players and two students to suicide. These events made him think about his own personal loss and the issue of mental health. In order to help his students deal with their loss, he began sorting out his feelings by writing the book "Fighting the Demon of Suicide".
In 2008, the book was published and in spring 2009, Merrill founded the Power UP Foundation. The mission of the foundation is to provide financial assistance to communities across the United States that have programs that promote better physical fitness and mental health.
"I believe that better physical health can lead to better mental health," said Merrill.
To kick off the foundation, Merrill began an historical run October 4 at Boston's Fenway Park and will finish in Key West, Fla. on April 3, 2010. The "Run to the Keys" campaign will require Merrill to run six days a week, half marathon a day.
During the run, Merrill will make appearances to discuss the power of better physical fitness and improved mental health.
Merrill hopes this is just the beginning for the Power UP Foundation. Over time he hopes to grow the foundation so they can provide funds to programs throughout the country and build awareness of the positive aspects of physical fitness.