The second annual Your Life Matters 5K is scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 7 at 8 a.m.
The Your Life Matters 5K was created last year as a response to the number of young in the community who lost their lives to suicide. The sole purpose of the race is to raise money that will benefit young people.
The idea for the race came from Your Life Matters 5K committee member Scott Karr, who lost his brother to suicide in November of 2001.
“I always thought about doing something and just never did until a year and a half ago when a couple of them happened,” says Karr. “It was just time to start doing something.”
Over 500 runners participated in the Your Life Matters 5K last year. Between donations and running fees, the race generated over $15,000 in funds. The money raised was used to bring motivational speaker Joshua Coburn to Knoxville High School, while also sponsoring a mental wellness day at the high school in April.
“We want to keep this going so we can do even more of those projects,” said Your Life Matters 5K committee member Michaela Bigaouette. “Not talking about suicide is not working and we really want to change that.”
This year, the committee has already scheduled another motivational speaker to visit both Knoxville High School and Middle School. Jeff Yalden, who speaks on mental health, will speak to high school students during the morning of September 30 and middle school students in the morning on October 1. Yalden will also host a community event in the evening on September 30.
“We would love to be as far-reaching as possible,” said Bigaouette. “At this time the funds that we raise we intend to stay in the Knoxville community and to help Knoxville kids. If we could raise more funds, we would absolutely love to spread that throughout Marion County.”
In addition to the 5K, speakers who have been affected by suicide will also be present to speak. The committee is hoping to incorporate projects to help honor families that have suffered as a result of suicide, as well. They plan to build upon last year’s tradition of having memory balloons available.
Resources from the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention will also be available the morning of the 5K. Members of the committee acknowledge that inanition to helping young people in the community, suicide prevention is also a primary goal of the race.
“This is not about the money,” says Bigaouette. “We are happy to collect as much as we can because we can use that money to help young people, middle schoolers and high schoolers. It’s really more about awareness. If we can post our banners and get our fliers up in every window in town, somebody walks by that and that makes a difference. That prompts them to think about suicide prevention. We do not want prevention to fall by the wayside.”
The Your Life Matters 5K will begin and end at Knoxville High School. This year, the race will incorporate chip timing to help record results more efficiently. Medals will be awarded to the top three male and females runners in each age division.
Registration for the 5K is open on getmeregistered.com. Runners are able to register through Sept. 4, but must register by Aug. 15 in order to guarantee a shirt.