A month ago I ran the Zumbro 17 mile trail race. On Friday, before I ran, I volunteered at an aid station, and while there I met Julio. Julio is an awesome guy to have around your aid station because he was always up-beat, joking around and an all around fun person to hang with while helping 100 mile runners. At the time Julio was wearing a shirt emblazoned with the logo ‘Break the Stigma’. I didn’t ask what it was about at the time, but have since come to discover what this organization is all about.
Break the Stigma is an effort created by Julio Salazar to bring awareness to mental illness, and help people overcome their fear of admitting that they need help. Julio has a compelling story about his own journey with depression, and he wants to share his passion for helping, with others. Therefore, this week Julio has been running across the State of Minnesota in an effort to bring awareness to mental illness. I’ve been following the journey on Facebook, and it’s amazing to see all the people that they are touching along the way.
I’ve had many, many loved ones in my life who have been touched by mental illness, and so the topic hits close to home. I’ve seen first hand how society treats people who are struggling, and it usually ends up compounding the problem. On the run this week they are dedicating certain miles to various people who have lost the battle with mental illness and have committed suicide. Reading their stories is heartbreaking and reminds us how fragile the human mind can be.
I’d encourage everyone to go check out their page, and their Facebook page that is documenting the run: https://www.facebook.com/breakthestigmarun. If you’re a runner maybe consider joining the trail race that’s happening on June 28th: http://breakthestigmatrailruns.mountaingoatrunning.com/. A portion of the proceeds all go to helping end the stigma of mental illness.