One of the biggest challenges for the treatment of mental illness and addictions is awareness: knowledge of the illnesses and signs/symptoms, knowledge of treatment and recovery and its effectiveness, the power of family and community support, and access to treatment and recovery. Stigma is still a huge barrier in all of this. The Icebreaker Run project is a significant mission to raising awareness. Gratia Plena is on the frontlines, and we support their project. You can join us in our mission as well through volunteer work, prayer for our organization, and a generous donation. Here is the Icebreaker Run statement about their mission:
“On Sunday, May 16, 2016, the Icebreaker Run will depart from Los Angeles on a southern route through Arizona, Texas, Georgia, and along the eastern seaboard. Six runners, all people in recovery from mental health issues, will begin a 3,100-mile journey in order to shine a bright light on the power and possibilities of recovery from addiction, depression, PTSD, and other mental health illnesses. The run is a relay that will have each runner covering about a marathon per day for 22 straight days. This run will establish a world record for a 6-person relay team, but personal or team glory is not the purpose of this historic trek. Instead, Icebreaker will invite the world to meet a group of runners that has struggled mightily with demons of every kind; enduring overdoses, incarceration and debilitating depression before finding a better life through recovery and running. We chose to call it Icebreaker because we plan to have a running conversation with America as we run from coast to coast. We will talk to schools about the explosive heroin epidemic that is plaguing young people around the country. We will talk about the crushing weight of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) that is causing our American veterans to die by suicide every single day. We will talk about Depression in all forms and General Anxiety Disorder and Alcoholism. We will tell our stories and share what we have learned through our personal journeys. Most importantly, we will listen because so many people who are struggling with these issues just need to be heard. And we will talk about how anyone can get help if they want it.
We have partnered with THP (The Herren Project) to greatly broaden our appeal to young people. The Herren Project is a non-profit foundation established by former professional basketball player Chris Herren that assists individuals and families struggling with substance abuse and addiction. Chris’s powerful personal story was the subject of an ESPN film Unguarded. Chris will join us as a guest runner the last day of the run. Also on the Icebreaker team is MHA (Mental Health America). MHA is the nation’s leading community-based nonprofit dedicated to helping Americans achieve wellness by living mentally healthier lives. Having THP and MHA on board will allow Icebreaker to reach millions of people with our message of health and wellness through treatment and running.
The runners include Catra Corbett, David Clark, Pam Rickard, Sophie Kashurba, Chris Martin and Charlie Engle. All of the runners listed here have a robust and engaged following on social media. We will have prominent guest runners join us throughout the run such as Ken Seeley (Star of hit A&E show Intervention), Bart Yasso (Chief Running Officer at Runners World Magazine), Julio Salazaar (Founder of Break the Stigma Project), and Chris Herren (Founder of The Herren Project). In addition, Suzy Favor Hamilton (3-time Olympian and author of Fast Girl) is planning to be at the start as we kickoff the expedition.
We will be finishing the run on June 9 in Washington DC. MHA will be having its annual conference at this time with well over a thousand attendees. The Icebreaker Team will have a featured podium position for media and Q and A when we arrive at the conference. We will actually finish our run and take the stage. The coverage of this one event will be huge. Ashley Judd is the honorary guest. Chris Herren and other pro athletes will also be present.”