SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO)–This September a group of 12 runners will take off from Rapid City and share the burden of running the 437 miles across the state, raising awareness and support for suicide prevention. This year, the 437 Project is ending the run with remembrance in mind.
“Last year when we finished at the Levitt, we realized that the finish line was awesome, so great to have so many people out learning about the mission we’re trying to support,” 437 Project chair Kelly Marshall said.
A mission that’s become more important than ever in South Dakota as the number of deaths by suicide reached a new high in 2021.
“The 437 project was born out of the idea for really this need for trying to link our physical and mental wellbeing together and spreading awareness across the state of the suicide resources available,” Marshall said.
In its inaugural year, the 437 Project raised more than $125,000 for the Helpline Center. The four-day run across South Dakota also raised awareness.
“It was a very emotional weekend watching them run across the state on the social media posts, to see how they were so open and vocal about suicide prevention it meant a lot to us as survivors,” Chantelle Friedman, the co-founder of Live Inspired 365 said.
Chantelle Friedman lost her father to suicide four years ago.
“When you lose someone to suicide it is very hard to talk about how you lost them, why they died, how they died,” Friedman said.
She started Live Inspired 365 to help support suicide survivors and prevent future suicides.
“When people die by suicide it doesn’t end the pain, it passes the pain onto others, and it’s evident in families, the pain that’s passed along,” Friedman said.
Now the nonprofit is partnering with the 437 Project to give those families a space to remember their loved ones lost to suicide during the final mile of the run.
“They can stand along that memory mile holding the sign, the runners run by, as they run by they’ll see the pictures of the ones that they are running for,” Friedman said.
“This is the first year we’re doing the Memory Mile,” Marshall said. “We felt it is important to bring those together and bring some of that to the finish line where we can remember those that have been lost.”
If you’ve lost a loved one or friend to suicide, you can sign up to have their photo made into a poster that will be held up along the last mile of the run in Sioux Falls on Sunday, September 24th. A memory mile will also be held in Chamberlain as the runners go by. Suicide survivors can sign their loved one up for the Memory Mile through September 10th.