By Mike Davies, Peterborough Examiner
Drew Merrett has thrown his support behind charity runs before but the Merrett Home Hardware Run For Mental Health is one really dear to his heart.
Merrett Home Hardware is the title sponsor for the downtown run Sept. 10 with presenting sponsor Bell Let’s Talk. It will feature a 10K run, 5K run and a 2.5K family and children’s walk/run. Details were unveiled during a press conference Thursday at Runner’s Life.
Merrett, a runner, lost a friend to suicide three years ago and volunteers his time to The Lighthouse, a Canadian Mental Health Association sponsored centre that supplies meals to low-income individuals and families.
“The CMHA is one of the main charities I love supporting,” Merrett said. “I feel it’s under-funded and Health Canada is not taking a front seat on the issue. One in five people suffer from some type of mental illness.”
If more funding and better support had been in place three years ago, Merrett wonders if his friend might not still be alive.
“If everything had been in place he might not have gone to that extreme,” said Merrett.
Merrett has twice before sponsored the annual run along a 2.5-kilometre loop beginning on Charlotte Street. The inaugural run was in support of the Greater Peterborough Chamber of Commerce and the second raised funds for the Peterborough Family Health Team Foundation. Dave Dame, from Runner’s Life, contacted CMHA development manager Kerri Davies in November to see if they were interested in partnering this year.
“It took a nanosecond to say yes,” said Davies. “It’s absolutely the type of event we like to align ourselves with. Bell Let’s Talk getting on board was icing on the cake.
“So much of what we try to do is to erase the stigma of mental illness and help people to understand the importance of mental health,” said Davies. “An event like this creates a safe place for people to come out and celebrate mental health and also talk about their own experience with mental illness.”
Davies said there is a link between physical well being and mental health.
“When you’re physically active your body creates healthy chemicals, endorphins,” she said. “You feel energized after a run or walk. You think clearer. When your body is in better shape you’re better able to deal with stress that comes at you. Runners often liken it almost to a meditation. That it calms their mind.”
Medical Centre Pharmacy and Carlson Wagonlit Travel are gold sponsors for the event. The latter is entering a team in the event.
The run is also occurring on World Suicide Prevention Day. Davies said a vigil has been held in the past on Millennium Park on that day and this year something will be organized to follow the run.
In addition to funds going to the CMHA, Davies said 10 percent of the net will go to the YES Shelter for Youth and Families.
All three runs begin simultaneously at 5:45 p.m. The cost for the 2.5k is $15, the 5k and 10k are both $30. The cost increases by $5 after Aug. 20. Register in person at Runner’s Life, online at www.runpeterborough.com until Sept. 7 or call Runner’s Life at 705-876-8960. Registration is also available on site on race day.