A cold and rainy day did not stop one community from gathering to raise funds for suicide prevention.
This year marks the 10-year anniversary of Running for Rachael, bringing Hamilton families together to help end the stigma on mental health. Running for Rachael allows people to raise funds for the Suicide Prevention Community Council of Hamilton (SPCCH).
The website RunningForRachael.com tells the story of Rachael Stacey, a young girl who lost her life to suicide.
Sid Stacey, Rachael’s father, is the chair of SPCCH.
“Running for Rachael is the primary engagement event for the suicide prevention community,” Stacey said. “It’s an opportunity to bring walkers and runners together. It’s a fun event that raises awareness and it really does help fund important projects.”
Outside it was grey and cold, but people arrived with smiles on their faces. Participants chose to either walk or run the 5 km route laid out around CF Limeridge Mall.
Those who walked had a chance to gather and create a safe space to talk about mental health while those who decided to run did not let the weather stop them from racing to cross the finish line.
Hamilton runner Samantha Mercanti was running for personal reasons.
“I was diagnosed with schizophrenia 20 years ago,” Mercanti said. “I also know Sid very well and have always loved supporting this race because it’s so meaningful.”
Suicide prevention programs are available to help recognize when someone may be struggling with a mental illness. The Be Safe Hamilton app is free and offers people information and links to suicide prevention resources.
Donations also help fund support groups for people who may be grieving a loss to suicide.
The event raised more than $35,000, close to the goal of $40,000. The donation link is open until Oct.31 so there is still time to donate.