July 4 5K promotes mental health and suicide prevention awareness

For the Miami Valley Today

MIAMI COUNTY — When 16-year-old Bryce Warner took his own life in August 2015, just days before the start of classes at Milton-Union High School, his family and friends were devastated. But with resolve and a sense of purpose, they rallied together to raise awareness of mental health and suicide prevention.

Because Bryce had been a cross country and track athlete, the Free the Mind/Anchor the Soul (FMAS) 5K walk and run was inaugurated July 4, 2016, to raise funds and awareness, and has been held annually ever since.

The July 4 5K walk/run, now in its seventh year, directs proceeds to mental health and suicide prevention education, and to Bryce Warner Scholarship Fund. Registration is $30 on race day. Participants who pre-register by June 23 will receive a $3 discount plus a commemorative T-shirt. Teams of 7 or more can also get a discount.

Cash prizes are awarded for top finishers and in a number of age categories. For complete details and to register, go to freethemindanchorthesoul.com.

Since the start of the 5K, proceeds and donations have been used to fund Youth Mental Health First Aid classes, billboards promoting a Crisis Text Line (741741), nationally-known speaker Ross Szabo talking about mental health, and support for Hope Squad – a youth-led suicide prevention program – in Miami County schools, as well as numerous scholarships for local students going to college.

NAMI Darke, Miami and Shelby Counties has joined forces with FMAS to promote mental health awareness. NAMI is a grassroots organization that helps families and individuals living with mental illness through advocacy and education. For more information about the local NAMI chapter, go to NAMIofDMS.org.

NAMI and the Tri-County Board of Recovery and Mental Health Services will have information and resources at tables at the event, as well as in the registration packets.