Be Part of the Break the Stigma Run
Julio Salazar is running across the state of Minnesota next May. He’ll run from west to east, for about 5 to 6 days, completing about 40 miles EACH DAY.
In 2013, while on a trail run, he had an idea. He wanted to bring awareness to mental health issues, and the stigma that surrounds them. He wanted people to be able to seek treatment and not feel ashamed. He has turned his idea for advocacy into a non-profit organization called Break the Stigma Project, or BSP.
Julio speaks from personal experience. He struggles with depression and anxiety. At one point, he was tired of the struggle, was tired of trying to deal with it. He wanted it to stop.
But he turned it around. And he wants to help others do the same, others who are in the same place he once was. He says,
I learned that through treatment, mental illness is very treatable. What good would it be to have learned all I did, if I didn’t share it with others?
Breaking the Stigma
BSP is an organization that focuses on teaching people who battled mental illness and mental health issues that we are not alone; there is hope and through treatment things get better.
Their goal is to “educate, encourage and inspire others about mental health issues and treatments in an effort to end stigma and foster hope.”
Their vision is three-fold:
- To educate people that depression and mental illnesses are treatable;
- To encourage people to live a healthier life through education and treatment;
- To inspire others to talk about mental health issues and create support.”
Julio and BSP will achieve this goal and express this vision through running.
Running has helped Julio manage his illness. When asked what his “running story” is, Julio says,
I don’t know if I have a story. But, I run because it helps me with my depression and allows me to meditate. I fell in love with trail running because of the beauty and tranquility of being out in nature. I’ve done a few ultras now. But, I enjoy running alone mostly. My goal is to continue running to bring awareness to special causes, versus running races.
The Break the Stigma Run Route
Julio welcomes people to run parts of his route with him, and dedicate those miles to someone who has died from mental illness. Here is his planned route and schedule:
- Day 1 – May 4th 2015: Dawson, Montevideo.
- Day 2 – May 5th 2015: Montevideo, Maynard, Clara City, Raymond and Willmar.
- Day 3 – May 6th 2015: Willmar, Kandiyohi, Atwater, Grove City, Litchfield, Darwin and Dassel.
- Day 4 – May 7th 2015: Dassel, Cokato, Howard Lake, Waverly, Montrose, Delano, Independence and Maple Plain.
- Day 5 – May 8th 2015: Maple Plain, Long Lake, Wayzata, Minnetonka, Hopkins, St. Louis Park, Minneapolis and St. Paul’s State Capitol
- Day 6 – May 9th 2015: St. Paul at the State Capitol, North St. Paul, Maplewood, Oakdale and Stillwater
How YOU Can Help the Break the Stigma Run
Help spread the word about Julio and BSP! Mental illness affects every one of us, and the more we work to break the stigma, the more everyone benefits.
They also accept tax-deductible donations at BSP, 2001 Wentworth Ave, So. St. Paul MN 55705. The donations help support the activities of BSP, as well as starting a fund for those who cannot afford treatment and/or medication.
BSP – And Beyond?
Julio admits that the he intended BSP to be a one-time only thing. But as he met more people and more people become interested, the project grew. He decided to create a board of directors, and then apply for tax-exempt non-profit status, so people could deduct their donations. Julio now wants to make a bigger impact than just awareness. He says,
People have been very supportive. None of us is making any profit out of this project. We pay for our own expenses. All of us have even paid for our BSP t-shirts. That’s how big our commitment to the project it is. We love the work we are doing here, and we want to continue to make a difference. There will be a BSP 5k in Glencoe, MN on May 2, 2015 to kick-start our run across MN. We want to run across other states in the future. Wisconsin in 2016!
Everyone has a story about mental illness. It truly touches every one of us, many of us very personally. It has taken strength, grace and courage for Julio to share his story and to start Break the Stigma.
I understand why people are afraid to talk about mental illness. I’ve certainly been in that position. But unless we do something to break the stigma, we’ll continue to struggle. Sharing our experiences with mental illness is a place to start.
The Bell Lap
One of my favorite podcasts, UltraRunnerPodcast.com, has a segment on every show called “The Fartlek Round.” Host Eric Schranz asks that week’s guest 10 “rapid-fire” questions, ranging from what the guest had for dinner the night before to the always #10 question, “What’s your favorite beer?”
I love these kinds of questions, and what they might reveal about a person. In homage to URP, I have come up with my own version for my interviews, called “The Bell Lap.”
Julio’s Bell Lap
- What is your favorite race? Wild Duluth Races because of the season. If you run it on the right time of autumn, like this year. It’s just breathtaking. It was my first ultra and most likely it was my last race for a while.
- If you were a tree, what kind of tree would you be and why? Birch, I love to believe that I am peeling off layers and keep finding new things about me.
- What was the first running shoe you wore? I can’t even remember this- I used to run in a pair Kanga-ROOS in High School- not a great idea.
- If you could live anywhere in the world, where you would you live? Vancouver, BC Canada – just a breathtaking place.
- If you were a professional baseball player, what would be your at-bat song? Gosh, I have no clue. Why is this question here? However, it is good time to be a San Francisco Giant player
- Who would play you in a movie about your life? Who would want to see a movie about my life? I don’t have the ego to even think about this one.
- What are 3 must-haves for winter running? Health, gear and unfrozen water or fresh snow.
- Do you have a mantra? I have a few –But, I am starting to believe more and more in “less is more”
- Burritos or burgers? I love vegan burritos (sweet potatoes). I am quite honestly getting tired of burgers.
Visit breakthestigmarun.com to learn more.