This past Saturday, 576 people woke up early to join us for our 3rd annual Run For It 5k in Satellite Beach, FL. Some people showed up as seasoned runners, while others were completing a 5k for the first time. As the race in Satellite Beach was ending, 1,200 virtual runners across 50 states and 8 countries were just getting started on their own 3.1-mile courses.
This year, as I watched people begin to cross the finish line, it wasn’t the time on the clock that struck me as important. It was the words filling the air and the people lined up, cheering them on as they crossed the finish line. Above our heads was a banner with the words “YOU DID IT!!!” The excitement was thick in the air as we welcomed back those who fought hard to make it to the finish line.
We know that people participated in our race for a lot of different reasons: for those they’d lost, for healing, for themselves, and for stories still going. Races are often used as metaphors for life, for struggle, for the journey we’re all on. After this Saturday, I can see why. Races seem like one of the rare times when you can actually see the power of encouragement, the power of a community rooting for people to keep going when they might feel like they can’t take another step.
What if, like in a race, we were always quick to offer words to remind people they aren’t alone in their struggles? What if we could remind people that we’ll be there – no matter how long the journey takes? How many people would find healing or recovery if they felt the freedom to share their struggles openly? How many more people would find the help they need to make it to the finish line?
This year, with the help of those in Satellite Beach and our virtual runners, we were able to raise more than $65,000 to invest directly into the mission of TWLOHA. These funds will help us continue to share the message of hope, to connect people to the help they need, and to challenge the lie that says we can’t talk about depression, addiction, self-injury, and suicide.
We don’t know where you are in your own race. But whether you’re steps from the finish line or just getting started, we want you to know that it’s OK to go at your own pace. No matter how long it takes, we’ll be waiting for you at the finish line.