Brent Webb

They’re stomping out stigma

Rai Read, Melanie Abbott, Brent Webb and Jaco Strydom will be running in the BMO Marathon and are raising money for mental health

With increasing awareness about mental illness and many fighting to end the stigmas associated with it, several locals are not just talking the same talk, they’re running a marathon.

Rai Read, Melanie Abbott, Brent Webb and Jaco Strydom will be running in the BMO Marathon in May and are raising money for the Canadian Mental Health Association as part of the race too. And their team is named Stigma Stompers.

We are running to raise awareness of the stigma that those with a mental illness face on daily basis. It’s an invisible illness, we have immense sympathy for someone with MS or cancer but as a society we often shun and are fearful of someone with schizophrenia. We hope to reduce that fear and stigma,” said Read.

It started back in October when Read and Abbott, who both work for mental health and addictions here, started climbing Terrace Mountain on their lunch hours.

Not the whole way, of course, but as far as we had time for. Gradually we started feeling stronger so we started jogging parts of it. Through that somehow we started talking about half marathons. I’ve run two in the past and although Rai hasn’t, it’s always been a dream of hers. So we chose the one in Vancouver (the BMO one) pretty much at random,” said Abbott, adding Webb has run a half marathon in the past and it will be Strydom’s first race.

A cupcake fundraiser brought in some money and a Facebook auction sprung up that’s on until March 21. There’s also a drive for people to donate a penny per km run, says Abbott. As of March 12, the foursome had run 406.63 km. To learn more about Stigma Stompers, to donate or bid in the online auction, see their Facebook page.