Sixteen+ years ago, the Board of Directors and Staff of the Mental Health Association in DE (MHA) got together to talk about a run/walk event. After countless discussions, E-Racing the Blues for Mental Health was born. The event took place at the Riverfront Wilmington and attracted about 50 people; not bad for a first-time event.
Enter Jane Castle, a board member who took over the planning of the event in 2005 and was responsible for tremendous growth in dollars raised, in participants, and notoriety. In a few short years, participants grew to 600 and that number has stayed pretty consistent. Not to mention, the event has been the premier fundraiser for MHA and since inception, has raised over one million dollars for the organization’s important and life-saving programs and services. Adding exhibitors (for free!) in 2008, we provided the latest in treatment and diagnosis of mental illness and substance use.
There are many people we can cite who have consistently supported the event, but we would be remiss if we didn’t talk about Jack Akester and the A-TEAM. Jack has amassed, oh upwards of 300 or so participants over the years and raised nearly $50,000! The A-TEAM is usually the largest team and Jack has a post-event cook-out to continue the celebration. The past couple of years, Jack has turned the reigns of captainship over to Alison and David Gilefski, who have continued the tradition.
There have been several chairs after Jane retired from the event in 2011. Jump to this year, and dating back 3 years, we are so very grateful to Lauren Golt for taking on the chairmanship and continuing the success of E-Racing the Blues for Mental Health. A new format will take over in 2018 at a new location. The site will be Glasgow Park to accommodate more of our southern Delaware supporters and we have moved to a fun walk only. We have also added costume contests awarding prizes for best-dressed participant, pet and team!
A long-time sponsor, Christiana Care, so far this year has the largest team at 29. We R Psyched/Christiana Care Team, headed by Meghan Hudson took over the number 1 spot last year with 38 participants.
“This is our way of helping MHA raise the dollars needed to help the many who suffer from depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and for those who have lost a loved one to suicide,” said one long-time captain.
MHA offers support groups statewide, educational training covering various topics including suicide prevention, and advocates for mental health issues and people and their families living with mental health issues.
Join your favorite team today or start one of your own at www.eracingtheblues.org. Busy that day, please make a donation to help us continue providing these much-needed services and programs.
Written by Laurie McArthur, Director of Development and Communication at the Mental Health Association In Delaware