Harlan to Harlan

Published 8:40 am Thursday, May 30, 2024

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Mental health awareness and suicide prevention are causes worthy of supporting, and Harlan Countians have long been willing to throw in and help further a good cause wherever the need may be. Recently, a wrong telephone number brought to light how technology can allow people to help one another regardless of the miles between them.

Shannon Vanderheiden, an organizer of the Tyler Vanderheiden Memorial Run, contacted the Harlan Enterprise recently during an attempt to contact an outlet in another Harlan County.

“There’s a Harlan, County, Nebraska,” Vanderheiden explained. “We talked probably a good 20 minutes before I realized I had called Harlan, Kentucky, not Harlan, Nebraska. I feel like that happened for a reason. We had a beautiful conversation, and I believe there was a reason I made that phone call.”

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She explained how Tyler Vanderheiden Memorial Run came to be as well as how people in Harlan, Kentucky, and across the nation can take part to shine a light on suicide prevention and mental health awareness.

“Annually, we host a run in memory of our son that we lost to suicide in May of 2015,” Vanderheiden said. “We first started the race in 2020 during the pandemic when everything was virtual. Our first race was a virtual race.”

Vanderheiden noted she wanted to keep a virtual aspect to the run even after the pandemic had eased.

“I had requested that we keep Tyler’s race virtual and in person for the following years,” Vanderheiden said. “I had in mind a vision of reaching every single state in the U.S. and every single county in Nebraska.”

The run retained the virtual aspect along with an in-person event, allowing people from all over to participate.

“The first year that we set the goal of every single state, we’ve reached that goal,” Vanderheiden said. “So, this year for 2024, we were able to get representation from every single state by May 1, and we actually have a participant from Canada as well.”

She added as of May 23, all but 8 counties in Nebraska will be represented.

“We are still hoping to achieve having representation from every single county in Nebraska,” she said. “The in-person race will be on May 25, at 8 a.m.”

While it is unlikely anybody from Harlan, Kentucky, will be able to attend the in-person run, they may still participate virtually.”

“The virtual can be anytime from anywhere starting on Friday, May 24, going through Sunday,” Vanderheiden said. “So, virtually, you can walk or run, take the whole weekend, whatever you need.”

Vanderheiden mentioned her mother completed the two mile walk over a weekend while using a walker.

“We want to encourage anybody who is willing to help us share the message of mental health wellbeing and suicide prevention, if they would join us, we will so appreciate that.”

To take part in the virtual race, register by May 24, at https://www.tylervanderheidenmemorial.com/raceregistration. While this year’s run will have already occurred by the time this article is in print, the event is held every year, and it is possible year-round to support suicide prevention and mental health awareness. For more information, go to https://tvm.betterworld.org or the Tyler Vanderheiden Memorial 2 mile and 5-mile Road Run Facebook page.