AdvantEdge Virtual 5K to promote mental health awareness and reduce stigma

MARQUETTE COUNTY — On May 23-24, AdvantEdge Sports Training is hosting a Mental Health Support Virtual 5K. Anyone is welcome to participate in the free event, but donations are encouraged—all of which will go toward the group Do It For Daniel.

Daniel Olson was an Ishpeming High School all–state athlete who lost his life in 2012, after battling anxiety and depression for years. Now, his father and football coach Jeff Olson is trying to reduce the stigma surrounding mental illness.

“When people say ‘mental illness,’ that’s when they freak out because of all the stigmas attached,” said Olson. “So we want people to understand this is very common; it’s a medical illness like any other medical illness. It just happens to be a medical illness of the brain, so it affects how you feel, how you think. And that’s a scary thing for people because there’s nothing outwardly showing that you are suffering or that you are ill, and that’s why people don’t talk about it and why people don’t get help. So we’re trying to create that dialogue and get people to understand that it is medical.”

People can participate in the 5K by going for a walk outside, or even by running indoors on a treadmill. The only requirement is to register online and get active. Participants are also invited to share what they’re doing on the event’s Facebook page.

AdvantEdge owner Dustin Brancheau played football under Coach Olson, and later trained Daniel Olson himself. He says this cause is close to his heart, and he hopes the virtual 5K will bring more awareness to Daniel’s story, and help other young people suffering in silence.

SOT: “There are so many kids and so many athletes that are going through these types of things, and they have these extra added pressures that they don’t know what to do or where to turn,” said Brancheau. “And sometimes all it takes is just to hear from someone like Jeff speaking on something like this. I wanted to use my AdvantEdge platform the best way I can, so I’m pretty excited about helping to raise awareness for this, especially in the month of May.”

Jeff Olson says starting conversations about mental illness and hosting events like the virtual 5K will help to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health issues for so many people. And reducing that stigma will go on to help many students and athletes, just like Daniel, to get the support they need.

“Anytime anybody can do something to raise awareness, it’s going to be a positive thing,” said Olson. “It’s been hidden for so many years because of the stigma that people will think you’re crazy or people will think you’re weak or you can’t handle everyday life, or maybe just trying to create some drama. So anytime someone can do something out in the public and raise awareness, it’s a positive thing. And more and more people are telling their story, which is a good thing. And we’re really appreciative that Dustin’s doing this and putting this out there for other people.”

Visit the event Facbeook page to register for the Mental Health Support Virtual 5K.  Click here to learn more about Do It For Daniel and the Olsons’ story.