This year marked the 6th annual Outrun the Stigma, a walk/run in support of mental health awareness with a mission to decrease the stigma surrounding mental illness. The event, which took place on October 21st, raised $94,650 for our ConnecTeen youth program. The total raised this year exceeds that of all previous years combined, and brings their total raised for Distress Centre to an incredible $171,650 since 2013.
Sadly, it was the death of 20-year-old Jessica Izquierdo that encouraged such a huge increase in donations this year. Jessica was a student at the University of Calgary and a member of the Outrun the Stigma Calgary planning committee. She passed away on September 10th, 2018. Her family asked that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to Outrun.
A team running in her honour, called Run For Jessica, raised over $50,000. Outrun the Stigma chose to dedicate the run/walk to Jessica’s memory.
“This year was a really bittersweet year for us, since our friend Jessica passed,” said Sara Mallett, Calgary Outrun the Stigma Co-Chair. “We thought the run went really well, but it was sad to not have our friend there.”
Sarah said that she hopes Outrun has raised awareness about the stigma of mental illness “and how debilitating it can be when you think you are alone.”
She added: “We want people to know that they are not alone and that they can always reach out for support whenever they need to.”
We hope that those who made a donation in honour of Jessica can take some comfort in the knowledge that the money raised will ensure that our volunteers and staff can continue to provide 24/7 crisis and daily online peer support to youth in Calgary through our ConnecTeen program. In the last few years, we’ve seen a significant increase in demand for our free ConnecTeen services, especially on chat & text. As demand increases, so do our costs and thus our need for funding. To see Outrun The Stigma receive so much support from the community, is truly inspiring, and we are incredibly grateful.
Dedication in Jessica’s Memory
On Tuesday, November 13th, Jessica’s mom and dad, JP and Jill Izquierdo, along with three members of the Outrun organizing committee, Sara Mallet, Jenna Dobry and Emily Cox visited Distress Centre. Our Executive Director, Jerilyn Dressler and Board member Ian Minnifee, talked about the great work that our team of volunteers and staff do in the crisis centre. Jerilyn took them on a tour of DC and showed them the ConnecTeen booth where a dedication in Jessica’s memory took place.
Distress Centre is very grateful to the Outrun organizing committee, volunteers, participants, funders and donors for making this year’s Outrun such an inspiring and successful event.
Header Image: The Distress Centre staff team at Outrun the Stigma 2018.