Sharee Proudfoot says she is running for her students and for the countless teens across Metro Vancouver who may be struggling with mental health issues.
The Gladstone Secondary School teacher has long been aware of the myriad of challenges faced by teens. But it was when she lost her nephew to suicide four years ago that the tragic ramifications of depression really hit home.
"I am committed to helping in any way I can to prevent the youth in our society from feeling alone and offering ways in which they can reach out to get help for their feelings of desperation," she says.
After her nephew's tragic death, Proudfoot says she decided to get involved with the Josh Platzer Society, a non-profit formed by Jude and Ben Platzer after their son Point Grey Secondary student Josh took his own life. The Josh Platzer Society is focused on educating British Columbians about suicide prevention, to reduce the stigma surrounding suicide and to promote awareness and dialogue on this difficult topic.
After volunteering by sitting on the Board of the Josh Platzer Society, Proudfoot decided to hit the streets and run in the BMO marathon as a grassroots charity.
"It was after the Victoria Marathon event in October of 2012 and the tragic loss of Port Coquitlam student, Amanda Todd that I came up with the idea of joining together running, youth and awareness of this issue," she says. "This is when I approached the Vancouver Marathon Society to inquire how a small charity could participate in such a wonderful event."
Proudfoot along with fellow Gladstone leadership teacher Lindsay Goodridge and three other runners are planning on running the half marathon this year.
As part of her commitment as a grassroots charity, Proudfoot was tasked with engaging 25 volunteers to help at a water station during race day. Turning to her students, Proudfoot was both surprised and proud by the "amazing" response she received.
"We have a strong leadership program here at Gladstone," she says. "There is such untapped potential with these students. It is the inaugural year that we've reached out and there is such potential to engage more students."
Proudfoot says in the coming years, she hopes to grow the volunteer and running contingents and spread the word beyond Gladstone to other schools across Vancouver.
Proudfoot has not only been supported by her race volunteers, but also by a group of young student improv actors who have held an improv show that so far has raised roughly $600 for the cause. Proudfoot and Goodridge are also planning a BBQ fundraiser on April 25 at Mr. Brownstone from 5-7 PM to raise additional money for their cause.
To learn more about Proudfoot's run or to donate to her cause, click here.