IN the wake of a personal tragedy, North Vancouver native Sarah Jamieson has decided the best means of healing is to continue putting one foot in front of the other.
Ten years ago, Jamieson set a 12-year goal of raising $1 million for charity by her 35th birthday. Calling it RUN4ACAUSE, her vehicle is her own two feet, seeing her run lengthy courses. In addition, she encourages others to join her, as a means of raising funds and awareness for a variety of causes. Her mother, Nora Donnelley, took her own life in 2008. In the subsequent four years, Jamieson has remained dedicated to her philanthropic goal, further inspired to make a positive difference in the lives of others, and has undertaken countless initiatives, ranging from supporting women in Third World countries, to speaking out about mental health.
For example, earlier this year, Jamieson capped off 439 days of running an average of six-kilometres a day with a community event entitled Walk In Her Shoes, intended to highlight International Women's Day and support Care Canada, an international humanitarian organization fighting global poverty.
Last weekend, Jamieson undertook a more personal fundraiser, RUN4MOM: (ME)ntal (HEAL)th 57 km Tribute, honouring her mother's two-decade-long battle with depression, bipolar disorder and substance abuse. The event marked the four-year anniversary of Donnelley's passing and Jamieson led a group of supporters in running 57 kilometres on Sunday, from Kitsilano to West Vancouver's Whytecliff Park and back. The number of kilometres were representative of Jamieson's mother's age when she passed away.
The fun run was intended to help break the stigma so often associated with mental health and funds were accepted for the North and West Vancouver branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association and the Blue Wave Foundation, a Vancouver-based charity working to make a difference in the lives of youth struggling with depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, and/or mental health.
"The entire 57 km took 7.5 hours to complete and we spent some time dipping our feet and calves in Whytecliff Park at the turn around point," says Jamieson, Monday, a movement and performance coach. "It was a glorious day, full of sunshine. I feel very honored to have had such an amazing group out with me on this journey."
"This morning, I can barely move - and I can't tell you how many blisters I have on my feet; however, I would do it again in a heart beat. . . . My mamma would have been proud and I hope her story continues to inspire others to look beyond the stigma and see the courage and strength of the person behind this disease," she adds.
Jamieson also used the event as an opportunity to honour the efforts of the North Shore emergency services personnel who assisted in her mother's case, many of whom offered condolences at her funeral.
"If you can take away anything from following along on our journey with us, it's this: A disease . . . does not define a person," she says. "The obstacles and challenges that we're faced with each day - and how we choose to use those challenges as a vehicle to be and do better, as tools to grow - that is what defines a person. No less and no more. The stigma of mental health must be acknowledged and it must be eradicated."
For more information on RUN4ACAUSE, visit sarahmjamieson.wordpress.com.