Story by Pafoua Yang KSTP- TV
About 1,200 people gathered at Orono Park in Elk River on Saturday to show support for those struggling with mental health. Thumbs Up event organizers say it’s also a place to remember and honor loved ones who were lost.
“In 2010 I lost my grandfather to suicide,” said Katie Shatusky, Thumbs Up Executive Director and Founder. “Our family was just really looking for an outlet to both help our grieving process and also just help those other families that have lost a loved one to suicide”
Shatusky said the family and other community members started a 5K memorial run to honor and remember her grandfather. That run led to what is known as Thumbs Up, a Minnesota nonprofit with a goal to connect, support and encourage one another to talk about their feelings and challenges to keep moving forward.
Saturday’s event was packed with activities for adults and children including a 5k race.
KSTP sports director Joe Schmit also joined the cause as a keynote speaker. Schmit used the opportunity to announce that the Hubbard Foundation will be donating $5,000 to Thumbs Up. Schmit also said he is writing a children’s book, slated to come out next year. All the proceeds made from the book will also go towards the charity.
Shatusky told 5 EYEWITENSS NEWS, one in five adults struggle with mental health. Despite the widespread struggle, people may be reluctant to seek help due to the misconceptions and stigma associated with mental illness that’s why gatherings like Saturday’s event are making a difference.
“I think this is a really healing event for families to come to and just like talk about their loved one and make it okay to talk about,” said Shatusky.
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