Approximately 1,000 participants from across the Maritimes laced up their shoes Sunday for the Run for Women in Moncton.
Instead of being about who’s first at the finish line, though, this run was about raising awareness and funds to support mental health.
In all, $65,000 was raised for the Beausejour Family Crisis Resource Centre in Shediac, N.B.
“The crisis centre provides immediate short- and long-term counselling in crisis intervention to people who experience emotional difficulties and mental health issues all across southeast New Brunswick,” said Kristal LeBlanc, the centre’s executive director.
With a goal of getting some physical activity and raising mental health awareness, the run hit home for some of those taking part, with participants sharing some of their personal stories.
“I, myself, have a history of dealing with mental health,” remarked Gwenda Sibley, who came from Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia.
“I’ve been on anti-depressants since I was about 23, and work in the mental health industry in the pharmacy, and we’re just here to help out wherever we can.”
Harley Rose, another person who laced up their shoes for the cause, is optimistic the atmosphere and awareness raised will help for years to come.
WATCH: Tessa Virtue talks about life off the ice
The race featured an appearance from Tessa Virtue, known as one of ‘Canada’s sweethearts’ and an Olympic gold medalist in figure skating.
She offered runners some encouragement at the starting line, before speaking to reporters about why she was there.
“Talking to the people here running, and walking and participating today, it’s so inspiring and it’s necessary,” Virtue said. “Because the stats are really troubling.”
“A lot more needs to be done. We need to come to a point where just, like, everybody — well, hopefully everybody — has a family doctor, everybody should have someone that they can go talk to about their mental health,” says LeBlanc.
“We know that by 2020, it is the second leading cause of disability in the world.”
LeBlanc says physical activity can make a huge difference for someone suffering from mild-to-moderate depression, as well as anxiety.