SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Lisa Larson took a turn running for The 437 Project on Saturday right at home in the Mitchell area. At first, she was running alone. Then, she came across a cheering group of supporters, where a familiar face on a bicycle, Judy Freeman, joined the party.
“That was my sister,” Larson said. “I have five brothers and five sisters, and so that was one of my sisters that I would also consider probably a second mom for me.”
Soon after, Larson had still more bicyclists accompanying her as she sang the chorus to the Bee Gees classic “Stayin’ Alive.”
“More family friends, good friends,” Larson said.
Before too long, she had an escort as she arrived at the Corn Palace.
“Really, I’m speechless, the support,” Larson said. “I knew there were going to be people there. I just didn’t expect the police escort, I didn’t expect the signs, the cheering and all the love.”
She’s one of 12 runners who crossed South Dakota for The 437 Project. Rochelle Sweetman and Carter Gronseth are two teammates.
“I had the privilege of being in the front seat of the RV behind Lisa’s ascent into Mitchell,” Gronseth said. “And as we were going along, we picked up bikers. There were five bikers behind her, and Lisa’s pace kept getting faster and faster.”
“Lisa is a prime example of how we can be in our deepest, darkest moments and emerge from that to be bigger and better than we could ever be before,” Sweetman said.
13 years ago, Larson survived a suicide attempt. Today, she’s a smiling light for people seeking to reach their own peace.
“I got text messages afterwards of ‘It was emotional when you came across the finish line because I have a mental challenge right now, I have, I had my stomach pumped from dowsing down too many pills,’ and all these texts that came across as I finished,” Larson said.
Larson has spoken openly in recent days about her struggle as well as the thrill she feels in being alive.
“Lisa is hope that people can overcome difficult situations and be a strong light towards recovery,” Gronseth said.
“She’s an amazingly brave human being,” Sweetman said.
Rose in hand, Larson shared an emotional hug at the Corn Palace with her sister Judy. Larson may have felt at her lowest years ago, but that’s now firmly in the past. In 2023, she could very well be the spiritual leader of The 437 Project.
“She was the light of our team as we journeyed across the state,” Sweetman said.
“My heart is exploding, it really is,” Larson said.
Carter Gronseth is the daughter of a long-time newsroom leader at KELOLAND Media Group: assignment editor Dexter Gronseth. The 437 Project’s efforts raised just over $250,000 for the Helpline Center.