BELLE FOURCHE, S.D. (KELO) — A trek across South Dakota has begun for the 437 Project. 12 runners left Belle Fourche on a long journey that will stretch statewide.

These runners for the 437 Project are raising funds and awareness for suicide prevention. For Whitney Lucas Molitor, the purpose hits home.

“Personally I grew up in Todd County which has one of the highest rates of suicide in our state so helping to highlight that we do see some disparities between groups and how dramatically that can impact families and communities and using this project as a way to get the word out that there is support and resources available,” Lucas Molitor said.

The entire route is 437 miles across the state. Runners are doing about 40 miles each.

“I’m the second runner to go off today. This is actually really good running weather as long as I can keep the wind out of my face I think I’ll be alright. But I’m going to knock out those second ten miles of the run today and get it rolling,” Koch said.

Once the relay is over, both Lucas Molitor and Greg Koch say the work is not.

“We’ve got a massive state, it’s expansive. We are going to see a lot of rural areas and a lot of places that might not always get touched and we want to make sure that everyone is heard and we are available for everyone. So I really think this is going to be a great launching pad to start conversations about mental health,” Koch said.

“We hope that this event will continue on and be an annual event in a way that we can really bring the word on an annual basis,” Lucas Molitor said.

With hundreds of miles left to go, these runners are keeping their positive attitudes and hoping to finish strong.

If you know someone who is struggling with mental health, don’t hesitate to call or text 988.