Stride Over Stigma
Fishers Running Club, The Peyton Riekhof Foundation for Youth Hope Partner For 5K Supporting Mental Health
Photographer / Brian Brosmer
After losing her battle with depression on July 18, 2013, those closest to Peyton Riekhof established The Peyton Riekhof Foundation for Youth Hope in her memory. The youth-oriented foundation aims to help others struggling with their mental illnesses and to reduce suicide and suicide attempts across this population.
On October 12, the foundation and the Fishers Running Club will team up for Stride Over Stigma, a 5K walk/run beginning at the Nickel Plate District Amphitheater. It will feature organizations with resources on mental health and mental illness. There will also be entertainment and speakers, as well as food and drink vendors.
“We all have mental health, we don’t all have a mental illness,” says Mike Riekhof, Founder of The Peyton Riekhof Foundation. “October is National Depression Education and Awareness Month, and our goal is to help educate about the signs, symptoms and treatment options for depression and other mental illnesses. There will be health care providers available to screen depression and provide resources. Ultimately, we want all attendees to understand that seeking help — either from a counselor, a trusted friend or your community — is a sign of hope and strength.”
Connecting Physical Health and Mental Health
Planning for Stride Over Stigma commenced this spring after the president of the Fishers Running Club, Jeanette Payne, approached Riekhof with the idea of planning a 5K to raise money for The Peyton Riekhof Foundation.
“We just kind of went after it — let’s do it, let’s get it done,” Payne says. “It’s pushing forward pretty quickly.”
Riekhof has had a relationship with the Fishers Running Club for about two to three years. He’s been to a couple of their weekly runs and given talks about mental health and wellness.
“We are really trying to tie in physical health with mental health — trying to make them equal,” Riekhof says. “We, as a community, recognize physical health as an important factor in our lives, but mental health often gets overlooked. So it’s nice to tie the two together, and that’s one of the goals of this run.”
For the Fishers Running Club, they hope to be able to build resources and give back to the community, just like The Peyton Riekhof Foundation for Youth Hope is doing.
“As a running club, we use running as something that helps with our mental health,” Payne says. “As such, we want to help everybody else find good mental health. We want to reach out and help the community any way that we can by building resources and finding ways to give back to the city and to things like the Peyton Riekhof Foundation so they can continue to help in a bigger effort.”
Payne describes the event as something that is a little more laid back and something where everyone will be able to walk around and find out the resources that are available.
“That’s the biggest part of it all, we want everyone to know that they’re never alone,” Payne says. “Whether a phone call or a text or an easy-access way from someone that is willing to help them if they’re struggling.”
Riekhof says the name for the run came from the community’s need to get rid of the stigma associated with mental illness.
“It’s one of the things that we need to do continuously across the community, get rid of the stigma associated with mental illness and the shame and guilt associated with mental illness,” he says. “As you tie in the name “Stride Over Stigma”, it goes into the theme of what this 5K is all about.”
Benefiting Youth-Oriented Programs
All funds raised from the Stride Over Stigma 5K go directly back to the community. Although the foundation doesn’t have any paid staff, it has been able to pay two licensed counselors to lead support groups in both HSE high schools and two junior high schools for one hour each week. Additionally, the foundation is starting a scholarship fund with four other non-profits for families that can’t afford copays or treatment for their mental illness.
“The school has a very good relationship with Community Health Network and that provides care for students who need it on a day-by-day basis,” Riekhof says. “What we are doing is supplementing that by using two private licensed counselors. They’re not full-time in the schools. We hit both high schools and those support groups contain about 12-15 students each, and then now we’re going into the junior highs for the first time.”
Since the foundation’s establishment, Hamilton Southeastern School counselors and teachers have been trained, and the schools have added a Mental Health Coordinator. Riekhof says that Community Health Network has become a valued partner in the schools and the city has embraced mental health as a priority. Junior classes across the schools have heard the message of hope for going on six years now.
“You are not alone, it’s OK to not be OK,” Riekhof says.
It’s Riekhof’s hope that the 5K can not only provide hope for adolescents and the youth but for the entire community. He views it as a way to educate and create awareness across all demographics around proper mental health and mental illness.
“Ultimately, we want people to speak up about their own personal illnesses that they may be hiding from or suffering from in silence and then to seek and find resources and get help,” Riekhof says. “Our mission is to end suicide across all the different demographics that it’s impacting every day.”
Registration for Stride Over Stigma is forthcoming. The run will begin and end at the Nickel Plate District Amphitheater.
“Sponsorship opportunities are available, and we are very proud to have St. St. Vincent | Ascension Stress Center as our title sponsor,” Riekhof adds.
Visit fishersrunningclub.com/strideoverstigma to register, volunteer or learn about sponsorship opportunities for this event.
For more information on The Peyton Riekhof Foundation for Youth Hope, visit thepeytonriekhoffoundation.com.