Team BeCause – 5K Friday

BeCause 2018 (left to right): Kendra Knauf holding her nephew Mark Malcuit, Amanda Hepner, Mary Malloy holding her children Nora & Ellis Malloy

Written by Kendra Knauf, Team BeCause

At the end of September for the past five years, I have run the Samaritans 5K.  There’s always a variety of things happening in my life, but the one consistent feature of my summers is spending those months training for the race, because my goal is always to finish the 3+ miles without stopping to walk and to raise at least a thousand dollars for Samaritans.  In these humid days of summer when I’m training, it is the perfect time to talk about what my team’s mission is all about and how it can be adopted by others seeking such support.

A few years ago in graduate school, my friend and fellow counseling student, Mary and I discussed the idea of BeCause. We observed in ourselves the mental health benefits of not only having a race to train for, but also how important the cause was to us in an emotional sense. Since we were both studying mental health counseling, we had a particular interest in what helps build resilience among those who are dealing with any mental health-related issue. Besides the appropriate self-care of eating a balanced diet, sleeping enough, exercising, spending time with loved ones, and having energizing and relaxing hobbies, we observed how building support around the Samaritans 5K event among our families, our friends, and our colleagues propelled our well-being. Running the 5K is more than a reason to exercise or an opportunity to fundraise, it’s a way of living the cause that Mary and I believe in. Hence, our team name was born as a play on words.  “Be (the) cause,” or “(just) because,” are both helpful ways to describe how we envisioned our purpose for the event.

In the years since we first came up with the BeCause team name, I have had countless conversations about deconstructing mental health stigma; advocating for those with mental health needs and solving issues in the workplace, in families, in friendships, and in relationships; how to support people with suicide related behavior, whether thoughts or actions; and of course, how to support clients. These conversations have been frank, honest, and eye-opening and have built closer relationships with those who want to learn more about what mental illness and suicide prevention is really about. I make no secret of the fact that I deal with depressive symptoms and anxiety symptoms, in the context of normalizing them.  I’ve been able to accomplish so much, live such a wonderful life, but that does not mean it is without struggle, pain, and grief. These symptoms do not define me or anyone else who experiences them. Being dedicated to the cause of talking, answering, and asking questions about mental illness de-mystifies the lived reality of those dealing with it. It also helps to open eyes and hearts of those who may have previously not been as understanding or aware. BeCause is more than a team name, it is an idea that can influence people to become resilient and compassionate.

My training for the upcoming 5K has been gearing up and I’m working on increasing my physical strength and endurance as a way to also build my emotional and mental strength, endurance, and resiliency.  I challenge you all to do the same as you train for the 5K and raise money for the Samaritans as you open the door to breaking down stigma and supporting yourself and others with mental illness.

Donate to Team BeCause’s 5K Fundraising page or register to walk/run on September 28!