We did it.
April 21, 2017
BENEFITING: American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
ORGANIZER: American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
EVENT: 2017 Boston Marathon
EVENT DATE: Apr 17, 2017
When I say that representing the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention in the 2017 Boston Marathon is a dream come true, I mean it sincerely. Some of my fondest and most vivid childhood memories come from treks into Boston for Red Sox games with Dad. I remember riding through the city awestruck at the tall buildings, the bustle, Bostonians; and of course that signature walk through the jam-packed concourse at Fenway and finally up the tunnel, into the park. It was those rides — me, my dad, the city, the Sox, Fenway — that made me fall in love with everything Boston. The Marathon is no exception to this. It’s not everyday that you get the opportunity to run the Boston Marathon, especially as a novice like me. It’s important that if you do happen to get into this coveted race on behalf of a charity, you better be damn sure that it’s for a cause that means a lot to you. A cause that will motivate you through those early morning runs. Through injury. Through Heartbreak Hill. A cause that has the potential to help and heal the masses. A cause whose magnitude is far beyond your own.
It’s not arbitrary that I am running for AFSP. On April 2, 2009, the world unexpectedly lost my dad, Mark Peterson, to suicide. I emphasize the world because my dad was very much a key figure for more than just me. He was a hard-working local business owner, a diehard Sox fan, a blues music fanatic, a chronic jokester, a steadfast motivator, a generous philanthropist, a great dad, a great husband, a great son, a great sibling, and a great man. The circumstances of his death are unique, in the sense that it was immensely unexpected and a motive remains elusive. It was then that I realized that mental illness, or emotional struggle, does not necessarily have to manifest itself palpably. It became clear that people from all walks of my life could possibly be struggling — and many were.
Following my dad’s death I dealt with my own bout of severe depression and was luckily able to combat it with the devoted help of those who had experienced or were experiencing emotional trauma themselves. Family, teachers, friends, and people I had never even met rushed to my aide and consoled me in my time despair. Their solace taught me firstly that mental illness was a critically serious and deadly problem; but, secondly, that it was not an insurmountable obstacle. It taught me that with concerted effort, awareness, resources, and hope, the writhing and potentially fatal effects of mental illness can be ameliorated or abolished. To be very clear: I was exceedingly lucky to have been in an environment where so many people instilled hope and meaning into my life during a time need. For most, this is absolutely not the case. It’s because of foundations like the AFSP that anyone who needs help, gets it. It’s because of our charitable contributions that scientists get funding to better understand suicidal risk factors, that those who are not educated about these issues are made aware, that comprehensive programs are put in place to help stop suicide before it happens, and that there is an agency to advocate for legislation pertinent to suicide prevention. We have the power to band together to create an environment — not just locally — where more mental illness is accepted, and more suicides are prevented. Thankfully, AFSP is in ALL 50 STATES to help us, so let us all join them in their fight.
I’m truly humbled to have the distinct honor of running the 2017 Boston Marathon for my dad, in memory of Brendan Wolfe, for all the loved ones we have lost to suicide, and for all those that suffer from mental illness. Thank you in advance for joining me in helping to create a world that is more open, accepting, and supportive to those struggling with mental illness.