2023 Year-End Impact

Good day, friends and supporters of Thumbs Up,

Thumbs Up experienced unprecedented growth in 2023. We also had several milestones that we are very proud of and would like to share.

Our small but mighty team is growing. We welcomed our third employee in November. Kate Swanson is the Program and Operations Manager at Thumbs Up. She comes with a wealth of knowledge as it relates to project management, putting processes into place, and event planning.

2023 was very significant as we celebrated the anniversary of our 10th Annual Thumbs Up 5K & 10K run, walk, and bike event. This event, which began in 2014, was the beacon of light our community needed to start talking about mental health, and it continues today to be more vital than ever before.

Here are a few other highlights and surprises that happened at our 10th annual event on race day.

  • We had a record number of attendees: 1,171 race participants, to be exact!
  • Joe Schmit, our Keynote Speaker and local TV Sports Reporter from KSTP-TV, awarded Thumbs Up with a $5,000 donation from Hubbard Broadcasting.
  • Joe Schmit also announced his new children’s book called ‘The Right Thing to Do,’ with a foreword by Joe Mauer, that 50% of all proceeds would be donated to Thumbs Up!
  • We had 69 teams at the event and exceeded our team fundraising goal of $40,000. The Teams helped us raise $45,225,02!
  • We renamed our Calming Corner program to Nana’s Calming Corner to honor longtime Board Member Jody Kreuser.
  • We raised over $150,000 at this event and then celebrated the fact that, collectively, over the past ten races, we raised over 1 Million Dollars to support mental health and suicide prevention.
  • Most of all, we were so grateful to spend the day with all of you. To grieve with you, to laugh and smile with you, to support one another, and to remember those who have gone too soon.

We are so grateful for the many volunteers who support Thumbs Up. In 2023, we had 1,581 volunteer hours between our special events, after-school program, and race.

The Thumbs Up Elk River after-school program had 930 visits.

Thumbs Up paid out $28,800 in therapy sessions through our referral assistance program. (288 sessions)

We hosted 156 youth in our Adulitsh program for 16-19 year olds.

Thumbs Up delivered 757 Cheer Bags to individuals and students who were struggling.

We helped install five of Nana’s Calming Corner spaces to local schools around the community.

The Thumbs Up Suicide Survivors Support Group meets on the first Thursday of the month. In total, we had 46 survivors receive peer-to-peer support.

We hosted eleven Teen Outreach Events with Keynote Speaker Kate Gladdin and Tasha Schuh. We visited several schools and communities, including Princeton, Spring Lake Park, Upsala, and Zimmerman. Through these Teen Outreach Events, we reached over 2,735 students.

We gave 48 presentations, which reached 18,378 people. These presentations happened at Lions Clubs, Rotary Clubs, Schools, community events, social gatherings, award ceremonies, and a host of other events in central and rural Minnesota.

Lastly, we donated 42 bereavement gifts to families who have lost a loved one to suicide. These gifts and the families that have lost a loved one to suicide are the reasons why Thumbs Up exists. One suicide is too many, and we are the boots on the ground helping the community, supporting those who struggle and those who have lost a loved one to suicide. We are passionate about the efforts we make, and we are doing the best we can to keep up with the demand and the mental health crisis.


Thank you for supporting Thumbs Up and the work that we do around Mental Health. We will continue to support the communities we serve, bringing awareness to mental health and providing support and resources to all.


Keep Moving Forward,

Katie Shatusky, Executive Director

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