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Running for Mental Health at the Fifth Third River Bank Run

In December of 2016, Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services reached out to me to see if I wanted to help them raise money as a charity partner for the Fifth Third River Bank Run. Pine Rest was chosen as one of six charity partners for the 40th Annual River Bank Run and since Still I Run is… well… running related, they wanted to know if I’d like to form a team to run the race. As a team, we would help raise money for the Pine Rest Patient Assistance Fund. If you’re not familiar, the Patient Assistance Fund helps those in financial need get the mental health care they wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford. Since I’m a huge advocate for Pine Rest and the Patient Assistance Fund, I had to say yes! I wasn’t sure how many people I could get to sign up to run and raise money for mental health. It’s a big commitment. Asking for money isn’t the easiest and running can be tough! So, I initially gave myself a modest goal of recruiting 10 people. If I could get 10 people to run on team Still I Run for Pine Rest, I’d be so thankful. Within a few weeks of announcing our partnership, Still I Run had 13 people sign up to race and raise money. So I upped the goal. I told myself we could do 15. A few weeks later, we even hit that. In all, we had 29 people on the team! With the Pine Rest team added to the equation, we had over 50 people running various distances of the River Bank Run for mental health. I’m so excited to also share we raised over $12,000 for the Patient Assistance Fund! 100% of those proceeds will go to help people get mental health care. I’m astounded and so thankful.

Race Weekend

The weekend itself made my heart so full. I spent a few hours hanging out with Pine Rest at the race expo and it was there I got to meet so many Still I Run community members! It made me so indescribably happy to connect, in person, with so many amazing people I’ve met online over the past few months. We even had a few people drive across the state to join us. Race day was even better! It was a beautiful, sunny morning that reflected the mood of everyone on the team. I got to DeVos Place, our designated meeting area for the day, at 6:30 in the morning so I could take pictures and greet every runner on the Pine Rest Still I Run Team. It was nothing short of amazing! I absolutely loved getting to know everyone on the team a little better. I only wish we’d had more time!

Spreading the Good Word

The week leading up to the Fifth Third River Bank Run I had a few opportunities to share Still I Run and Pine Rest’s mission with a larger group. On Thursday, the day before the expo, I sat down and talked with Emily Linnert from WoodTv. I’ve known Emily for many years so I was honored when she said she wanted to do a story on Still I Run. She’s a fantastic reporter and I knew she would do the story justice. If you want to check out the story, click here. On Friday, the day of the expo, my interview with Michigan Public Radio aired. (click here to listen) I knew the piece would air sometime between 3 and 4 p.m., but I wasn’t sure when exactly. Since I was busy much of that afternoon doing prep for the expo and the race, I wasn’t exactly sure if it even aired. It wasn’t until I checked Still I Run’s Instagram that I found out that it had. At about 4:30 p.m. I got a message from a guy named Chris who said he’d heard my interview on the radio. He said he wanted to donate $100 and run for Still I Run and Pine Rest. I instantly responded through Instagram and told Chris I’d be at the expo that day between 5 and 7:30 and told him where to find me. Lo and behold, at about 7 p.m. Chris shows up at the Pine Rest booth, checkbook in hand. I couldn’t believe it! He said he was so inspired by the interview that he knew he had to come on down to the expo, sign-up for the 25K, donate money, and run for mental health.

It’s all worth it

I’ll be honest, there are days when I’m really frustrated that I have depression and anxiety. I ask God, “Why me?”. The thing that makes it all worth it though is knowing some good comes from it. I have a voice. I have a story. And I will continue to tell that story so that it can benefit others. Whether my story gets someone running for their mental health or inspires someone to sign up for a race and donate $100 the day before, having a mental health condition is totally worth it. Thank you to everyone that helped make the weekend of May 13 so memorable. I can’t even begin to repay you all for your kindness. And now… for some photos!


By Sasha Wolff

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