“Our pain is a kind of energy that is not pleasant. We fear that if we release our diversions and come back to ourselves, we’ll be overwhelmed by the suffering, despair, anger, and loneliness inside. So we continue to run away. But if we don’t have the time or the willingness to take care of ourselves, how can we offer any genuine care to the people we love?” – Thich Naht Hanh
September 17th , 2022 I will be competing in IRONMAN Maryland. The full distance IRONMAN is a triathlon consisting of a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, and a 26.2 mile run. I would like to use this race as a platform to raise money for HIKE for Mental Health, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to alleviating the suffering of mental illness. HIKE for Mental Health organizes hikes to promote the benefit of hiking while directing 100% of the donations to funding mental health research and trail conservation.
During my thru-hike on the Appalachian Trail in 2018, I would occasionally meet hikers wearing a HIKE for Mental Health t-shirt throughout the 2,180 mile stretch. I didn’t set off for the AT with the intention of dealing with any mental health issues, but thinking back to my journey I can see how the trail (or any trail, no matter the distance) provides people an opportunity for self-exploration, inward reflection, and the inability to escape any of the emotions that may be suppressing you, without first confronting them – 1 step at a time. It’s an opportunity to be healed by Mother Nature, quiet your mind, and re-connect with yourself to find peace in your life.
It’s hard to be open and honest sometimes, even with the people in your life you love and are closest to. For me personally, instead of taking care of my feelings and understanding them when they come up, I allow negative emotions to build up until eventually I just can’t carry the burden anymore and I lose who I truly am. I become the negativity and carry it with me everywhere I go, projecting it onto other people who don’t deserve it. Something that shouldn’t be a problem becomes a big problem and fears and anxieties about the future deter me from the best path to achieve my goals and dreams. The scary part about it is if you don’t have a handle on it, most of the time its happening sub-consciously, not even realizing what you’ve been doing to yourself or other people until the door slams right in your face and you’re stuck to deal with it on your own.
When my mind is at peace, I am the person I want to be. Happy, always smiling, motivated, driven, and loving. Sure, there’s always going to be ups and downs, but coming to terms with those downs and learning the best way to take care of them will make the suffering easier. HIKE for Mental Health can help people get on the path towards being the person they want to be and I believe that their mission can change the lives for a lot of people.
It would be awesome if you are able to donate any amount for HIKE for Mental Health and inspire me to complete Ironman Maryland. 80 percent of the funds raised primarily go to funding research grants through the Brain and Behavior Research Foundation. 20 percent goes to trail conservation such as the Appalachian Trail Conservatory and the Pacific Crest Trail Association.
Thank you for reading!
1 in 4 families is affected by mental illness.
HIKE for Mental Health is a recognized 501(c)(3) nonprofit founded on the vision of a world in which everyone, including those who suffer mental illness, can find the simple joy of living.
Our mission is to alleviate the suffering of those afflicted by mental illness, eliminate the associated stigma, and foster responsible use of wilderness trails.
As an all-volunteer organization, we distribute 100% of contributions raised by our hikes.
- 80% funds scientific research to understand and treat mental illness
- 20% conserves national wilderness trails
Your donations are tax-deductible to the fullest extent allowed by the IRS. Thank you for your support.
To learn more, visit hikeformentalhealth.org.
To join a hike click here.