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Notes from the trail:
Don't Struggle in Silence

Don’t Struggle in Silence

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Welcome, readers! My name is Emily Sheetz, and I am a first-year medical student at Eastern  Virginia Medical School. I am thrilled to share with you the story behind the Don’t Struggle In  Silence 5K. 

On April 13 at 8:30 am, runners and walkers alike will gather at Benchtop Brewing Company to race along the Elizabeth River Trail to raise awareness for mental health and suicide prevention.  Mental health is a topic that is extremely personal to me. In April of 2012, I lost my oldest sister, Courtney, to suicide.  

Suicide ranks as the 10th leading cause of death in the United States—a staggering statistic that cannot be ignored. The mission and goal of the Don’t Struggle In Silence 5k is to use my voice and experience to empower others, demonstrating that it is not only acceptable but crucial, to speak up about mental health. De-stigmatizing mental health starts with conversation, with openness, and with events like this.

Just as we prioritize our physical health, mental wellness is equally important. If we break a limb or suffer from a fever, seeking medical attention is the norm. So why should it be any different for our mental health? 

Proceeds from the 5K will be donated to the Sarah Michelle Peterson Foundation, a local mental health organization dedicated to providing educational resources and support within the  Hampton Roads community. 

I am incredibly grateful to hold this event along the Elizabeth River Trail (ERT). The ERT shares my passion for mental health advocacy, often partnering with local health organizations to host events promoting mental wellness. The trail offers participants a safe and welcoming place to exercise their bodies, but also an opportunity to reflect and find peace in nature with its waterfront views and green spaces. 


I’m overwhelmed by the support we’ve received from local organizations and businesses regarding this event. Following the 5K, join us at Benchtop Brewing Company for an after-party filled with music, raffle prizes, and even a guest appearance from Sour Street Pizza. 

Before I conclude, I’d like to share a quote that resonates with me, especially on the tough  days: 

“Mental health problems don’t define who you are. They are something you experience. You  walk in the rain, and you feel the rain, but more importantly, you are not the rain.” -Matt Haig


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I hope this event serves as a reminder that no one is alone in their struggles and that together, we can make a difference! Join us in April as we run for mental health awareness and suicide prevention. I hope to see you there! 

Emily Sheetz, M.S.


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