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Man laces up for mental health challenge in honour of former Vernon editor
Kelowna Capital News - 3/4/2021
Two things inspired Vernon's Zach Anderson to partake in a gruelling running event in Perth, Australia, where he currently resides.
One inspiration to take on the 4 x 4 x 48 which sees competitors running four miles every four hours for 48 hours for a total of 48 miles in two days came David Goggins, a retired Navy Seal, current ultra-runner and motivational speaker.
The other inspiration is longtime friend Justin Mitchell of Vernon and his late father, former Morning Star managing editor Glenn Mitchell, who succumbed to a lengthy battle with depression on Dec. 17, 2020.
"While ultimately I was motivated enough to attempt this challenge strictly for improving my own mental strength, I recognized sharing it would be a valuable opportunity to not only inspire others to face challenges in their life but also raise money for a charity," said Anderson.
A powerful conversation with Justin, which the pair recorded on video and shared on social media, made the direction Anderson wanted to go with this challenge and fundraiser "instantly clear."
"Glenn was well known and loved within the community," said Anderson. "He was known for his kind-hearted nature towards everyone he met. I particularly remember every time I visited Justin's house when we were younger, he would show a keen interest in how things were going with me. Often I'd spend five-to-10 minutes chatting with him before Jup (Justin) and I would hang out.
"Recently I discovered he was known for these sort of chats with friends and acquaintances he'd see in public, and those who know him well will attest to the high frequency at which this would occur. Glenn was a beautiful soul, who brought so much joy to the world through his writings and his deep empathetic connection with everyone he met."
Anderson chose the charity #SickNotWeak because he believes it is important to bring awareness to the fact depression is an illness and not a sign someone is weak or simply ungrateful for what they have in life.
"In addition to this, I would like to encourage everyone to view the health of their mind much like the health of their body," said Anderson. "Sometimes you may get sick, and more immediate specific medical help is needed, but those of us who are not sick have the capacity to improve the health of our body and mind which in turn will give you more capacity to help those who are sick."
Raising awareness on this topic is extremely valuable and may even save someone's life, said Anderson, who has received support from Justin and his family and friends over the 4 x 4 x 48 challenge.
"I'm extremely honoured that you want to do this challenge in my dad's honour," said Justin. "I'm blessed that we have this opportunity to raise some awareness toward it. It's an extremely tough topic, absolutely. I think it resonates well with everybody because we do all see or have these depressive thoughts or qualities to us. Not every day so much, but once in a while they come out in everybody."
You can follow Anderson's challenge through his Instagram account, @zach_seekingawe. He has also established a GoFundMe page for donations to the Sick Not Weak Charitable Foundation. One friend has vowed to donate $5 for every mile Anderson completes (he had finished 16 miles at time of publication). The goal is to raise $3,000.