Mental health 5K to raise funds for Counseling Center


courtesy of Sarah Harmon

The We Will Run For You 5K will give participants an opportunity to compete for medals, while also raising funds for Marshall’s Counseling Center and raising awareness to fight stigmas surrounding mental health and mental health services.

The We Will Run For You 5k will give Marshall University and Huntington community members an opportunity to help raise funds and awareness for mental health Saturday, starting at the Marshall Recreation Center.

We’re open to runners, walkers, anybody that wants to do this in whatever way they can, whatever they’re capable of; we want to invite people of all abilities to come out and participate,” said Sarah Harmon, a senior marketing major and organizer of the event.

Harmon said individuals in wheelchairs and those pushing strollers are also welcome to participate in the event, which was organized by members of Marshall’s Student Government Association and Counseling Center.

The main purpose of the We Will Run For You 5K is to ultimately raise awareness, said Student Body Vice President Hannah Petracca, who has worked to address mental health on Marshall’s campus with Student Body President Hunter Barclay, the Counseling Center and members of the student body cabinet, including Harmon, the team’s business manager.

Petracca said the 5K is meant to raise awareness to fight the stigma behind mental health and receiving services for mental health and is called the We Will Run For You 5K to reflect the Counseling Center’s motto, “We Are Here For You.”

“We just want to de-stigmatize utilizing mental health services and also raise money to assist the Counseling Center in any services they might need to purchase, whether that be new employees or more outreach programs or whatever that may be,” Petracca said. “That’s where the money will be going.”

“It’s a great cause,” she said. “And it is something that is really important, and I think deserves the representation and the support. The statistics on mental health on college campuses are really, really alarming, and doing anything to help raise awareness, I believe, is part of our social responsibility.”

The route of the 5K, which starts at 9 a.m. at the Rec Center, is mostly on the exterior sidewalks of  Marshall’s campus, Harmon said, and involves going twice around the outside of campus, while weaving inside of campus a couple times, passing by the Memorial Fountain and the John Marshall statue.

During the event, volunteers from the SGA and Counseling Center will be serving as encouragers placed at different points throughout the route, Harmon said. She said they will have encouraging signs and will be cheering for participants and making sure they are moving in the right direction, and the sidewalk will also be decorated with encouraging sayings and words of affirmation to “maybe make them smile while they’re on the route.”

The registration fee for the We Will Run For You 5k is $15 for individuals who register online at prior to the event and $20 for those who register in person on the day of the event. Registration starts at 8 a.m., and Harmon said she would like those who registered online to arrive by 8:30 a.m. and those who plan to register in person to arrive earlier.

The first 50 participants to check in the day of the event will receive free T-shirts sponsored by the St. Mary’s Medical Center Foundation and Hometown Sportswear, Harmon said.

Participants in the race will also have the opportunity to win medals made by the local business Contempo Trophy and Awards. Harmon these awards will be given to first place male and female participants in each of the race’s age divisions and first through third place participants in the male and female division for all ages.

Harmon said she hopes participants will feel supported by the Marshall community and the greater Huntington community, being around “all these people who support them and are for mental heath awareness acceptance.”

“Mental health doesn’t discriminate,” Petracca said. “There’s no specific kind of person that struggles with mental health issues, and I want that to be very apparent when we are doing this race, that we all have experienced it in some capacity, whether its ourselves or somebody that we love, and I want our students to feel that they are supported through that battle.”

Jesten Richardson can be contacted at [email protected]