Kris Bathke began a mission to end the stigma against talking about suicide after the tragic loss of her father in 2010. That mission will have led to the inaugural Beat the Blues Cruise Run/Walk on April 6. The event will open at 9 am and the 5k run/walk and 10k start times are to be determined. Cost is $50 for the 10k and $40 for the 5k, and participants are encouraged to make their participation into a fundraiser through the Raceroster platform, where registration is now open.
“My father was 63. He was a very successful man. I saw him every Sunday for dinner, had no idea that he would even consider suicide or even had depression issues,” Bathke said.
Bathke said through hosting this event she wants to let people know that they can discuss suicide and depression. She also wants people to know that suicide and depression are not things people should feel ashamed of.
Organizers Bathke and Emelle Holmes-Drammeh encourage people to participate in the event and bring their families to the Keva Sports Center in Middleton to explore the mental health resources in the area. The two enlisted local DJ M. White to provide the music and scheduled Dogs On Call.
“We’ll also have different activities. We’ll have a silent auction,” Holmes-Drammeh said.
She also said children will have an opportunity to tie-dye shirts if they like. Holmes-Drammeh and Bathke said people should attend even if they do not plan on participating in the run/walk. Bathke said her main goal is to raise awareness and get people to think about mental health.
“I thought about doing an event like the run/walk for a long time. When I started planning the run/walk, it became clear that we would have to create an organization,” Bathke said.
She said Holmes-Drammeh gave her just the push she needed to help organize the event, later applying for 501(c)(3) status for the organization. The Beat the Blues Cruise organization exists to raise awareness of both suicide and prevention measures. All proceeds from the run/walk will go to organizations that provide mental health care.
“We’re hoping this is going to happen annually,” Bathke said.
Holmes-Drammeh said one of the biggest challenges people who have depression or are considering suicide besides the stigma is access to appropriate care. She also said some insurance plans do not include comprehensive coverage for mental health and emotional well-being.
Bathke said she hopes more people will become aware of mental health issues and how suicide affects everyone. Holmes-Drammeh and Bathke said they are looking for community support including people to go online and register to participate, including possible vendors.
“We’ve never done anything like this before so when she came to me for help, I said sure but I have no clue how to do this,” Holmes-Drammeh said.
However, the organizers did extensive research on how to plan a successful run and walk. They even sought help from organizations like Target Destination, Next Level Sports and MN Run Series & Podium Sports Marketing, Inc.
“We’re working with organizations that kind of do this regularly,” Bathke said.
The organizers have solicited help from The Center for Suicide Awareness, Journey Mental Health and Veteran Affairs. Bathke also said mental health professionals will be on site.