Spearfish, S.D. (KELO) — It’s a race to save lives. For the next few days, 12 runners will work together in a 437 mile relay journey across South Dakota. 

The runners are raising money for the Helpline Center, while also raising awareness about mental health and suicide prevention.

Early Thursday morning, a dozen runners gathered on the Wyoming border and started a long journey across the state. Each person participating has a reason to run. 

“My why for running is I work in the emergency department as a nurse, I see patients come in everyday. As overdoses or self-inflicted gunshot wounds, and if there is something that I can do to make a difference and see less of those, I’m going to do just that,” Runner Carter Gronseth said.

This statewide run is raising money for mental health services while also raising awareness and hopefully saving lives.

“I hope that our mission helps spread the word about the 988 mental health crisis hotline. Because I think if we can equip our children with the knowledge that 988 will bring them help, we’ll do a lot of help towards reducing the amount of suicides in South Dakota and helping our mental health overall,” Runner Rochelle Sweetman said.

Right at the Wyoming-South Dakota border is where the first runner took off this morning. Each runner will run about 40 miles over the course of the next couple of days. Each runner runs about four different legs throughout this race.

“I don’t think I really slept at all last night. I am to be honest with you, I’m anxious about this, I’m excited to get running, but running is the way that I deal with anxiety and all that personally, so this is exactly what I need,” Gronseth said.

As the runners make their way east, everyone in the state can get involved.

“We have an online tracker where you can track our progress across the state, and you can reach that at 437project.org . So we encourage everyone to go out and check out the website, read the runner bios and you can find out our progress as we make our way across South Dakota,” Sweetman said.

We will keep you updated as this group continues to run across the state.