It was a break in the weather that couldn't have worked out any better.
The Fort Frances branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) held their sixth-annual “Steps Against Stigma” 5k walk/run last Wednesday night at the Sorting Gap Marina.
Even before the event concluded, organizers were excited by the turnout and support they saw.
“I am thrilled with the amount of people that have showed up today,” CMHA's Christie Cousineau said.
“The community spirit and the community support is incredible. We had a goal to beat our prior year, and I don't know if we have, but I think we have.”
Though the run had not taken place the previous year due to the construction that was taking place along Colonization Road East, the last time the event had been held they had around 150 people turn out. According to a Facebook post following this year's “Steps Against Stigma,” 239 people signed up to take part.
“We had Riverside Health Care Facilities bring a group, and Nelson Medicine and Community Living Fort Frances, as well as Dr. Wu's Dentistry,” Cousineau said.
“It's awesome to see mental health become a forefront in the community. We need to take care of each other.”
Christina Hahkala and Kristi Albright are both with CMHA and noted that the day and glow run had benefitted from a break in the miserable weather that had defined most of September into October.
“The weather helps for sure,” Albright said.
“We don't mind running a little bit late if we have all these participants coming out,” she added.
“We had people registering right up until when they started,” chimed in Hahkala.
“And the more people you bring out, the more people talk about mental health, the more awareness it brings.”
The run also featured music from Party Rock DJ Services, who pumped the tunes during warm-ups led by Jackie Lampi-Hughes of Energy Fitness, as well as during the run itself, welcoming back each of the participants as they completed the lap from the Sorting Gap to Seven Oaks and back.
Cousineau said that the run was aimed at helping to combat the stigma of mental illness, especially considering how many Canadians suffer from one form or another each year.
“This year, one in five Canadians will experience a mental health problem or a mental health illness,” Cousineau explained.
“And of that, only 60 percent will seek treatment. That is why we're here tonight. Tonight we're going to stamp out the stigma. We're going to celebrate diversity and inclusion.”
And even as the first group of runners were making their way back down the path towards the Sorting Gap, Cousineau said the organization is already getting ready to do it all again.
“We're always planning for next year,” she said.
“Bigger, better. Always planning.”