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A roundup of news on sporting events, people and places in Southeast Michigan by columnist Jim Evans.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Running for the health of it

It was three years ago when Stephanie Kauffman learned about the Mind Over Matter (MOM) 5k run/walk.
Honestly, it was not the distance that made her sprint toward the starting line.
No, it was rationale behind the event.
On Saturday, May 4, the eighth annual MOM race will be held in Starr-Jaycee Park in Royal Oak. The park is on 13 Mile Road between Crooks and Main Street. The cost is $30 for those 18 and older, and $25 for participants younger than that. Runners 12 and under are free if accompanied by a registered adult. Same-day registration and packet pick up for pre-registered participants will begin at 8 a.m. on race day. The 5k is scheduled to start at 10.
Since the event’s inception, more than $90,000 has been raised for mental health research and suicide prevention.
The race evolved out of enveloping grief. Royal Oak resident Gail Boledovich, a loving mother of four, took her life on May 1, 2005 after a struggle with schizophrenia. By way of dealing with the pain, guilt and confusion surrounding suicide, the kids realized a way to both honor their mother and help others. The next year, the MOM 5k debuted.
According to the, over 30,000 people die each year from suicide, making it the 11th leading cause of death in America. Among teenagers and young adults ages 15-24, suicide is the third leading cause of death. Over 90 percent deaths from suicide are attributed to mental health conditions such as depression, bi-polar disorder, schizophrenia, etc. These statistics are staggering yet, due to the stigma surrounding mental illness and suicide, many victims and families are forced to fight their painful battles in private.
Kauffman will not only participate in the event, she will also be the featured speaker.

“I was diagnosed with depression when I was seven. My parents had gotten divorced, and my school work was suffering. I was having a hard time concentrating. My mom thought I should see a counselor.
“When I was 16, I started to have serious mental health issues myself,” said Kauffman.
Here’s an entry from Kauffman’s own website:
My name is Stephanie and I have suffered with depression, anxiety, and mental illness since I was very young. I struggled for a very long time and spent a lot of time in psychiatric hospitals and treatment centers ... Someone once told me the saying, “Once you realize that what you are doing is causing you more harm than good, that is when you will stop doing it.” It took me many years, and I finally realized it. I was not happy and that was not how I wanted to live. I punished myself by doing self-destructive behaviors and spent much time contemplating suicide ...I spent my teens and 20′s giving into my mental illness, and finally now, at age 29, I have taken my life back. Obstacles often come my way, however I am able to deal with them now. I am so happy to be alive! I don’t do destructive behaviors. I don’t think about suicide.”
Kauffman has already written one book, “Living on the Border.” She is in the process of writing another. She will be at Starr-Jaycee Park on Saturday. So will upwards of 1,000 others. They will be from Oakland County. They will be from Macomb County. They will be from beyond those borders.
They will be there to support the Boledovich family; Paul, Lisa, Trisha and Julie. They will be there for all sorts of reasons. To support their own family members; to support friends; to support those they have never met before.
They will gather at Starr-Jaycee Park to try to take a couple of swipes with the eraser at the stigma that still exists for the mentally ill.
“There are so many people struggling with physical illnesses. You want to support their causes. My own mother died of leukemia. I am always involved in walks and runs to benefit cancer research,” said Kauffman.
“But there is still that stigma about mental illnesses, and there are countless people struggling with it. One of the worst things about mental illness is the feeling there’s nobody you can talk to.”
That won’t be the case Saturday. It is a 5k. It is conversation. How many steps does it take to cover 3.1 miles? Even the smallest steps count for something.


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