MHA, National Partners Announce Cross-Country Run to Raise Awareness | Mental Health America

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MHA, National Partners Announce Cross-Country Run to Raise Awareness

Media Contacts:
MHA: Erin Wallace, (571-319-9594,
THP: Jenny Swider (401-243-8555
Icebreaker Run: Stacey Hatcher (800-347-3856,

National Mental Health Organizations Announce Cross-Country Run to Raise Awareness
Approximately 1 in 5 Americans, more than 48 million people, suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder. -- Few discuss it openly.

Alexandria, VA—This spring, a team of six runners, each of whom have been impacted by some form of mental illness, will run a relay across the United States to increase public awareness regarding mental health issues. Throughout their journey, they will speak out about depression, addiction, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and more, in a forum that encourages honest dialogue and highlights causes for action.

Mental Health America (MHA) andd The Herren Project (THP) are excited to present the inaugural Icebreaker Run ( as part of Mental Health Awareness Month in May. Beginning in Los Angeles on May 16, the runners will set out on a 3,000 plus mile relay route that winds through the southern portion of the United States then heads north along the eastern seaboard, finishing in in Alexandria, VA. The Icebreakers will run continuous legs, with the team averaging 130-140 miles a day. Their goal is to run 24 hours a day for 24 days. The non-stop concept is important to the relay team because, “Mental health doesn’t rest. It persists and endures.”

“We named the expedition the ‘Icebreaker Run’ because we intend to have a running conversation with people across America as we run from coast to coast,” said Icebreaker Run team captain, Charlie Engle. “Our goal is to take the first step to begin the dialogue and continue the conversation regarding the barriers existing between mental illness and mental health.

One of the world’s most accomplished ultra distance runners, Engle openly discusses his struggles with addiction and the importance of treatment and support to sustain recovery. Now into his 23rd year of sobriety, he admits that it has been hard work. Adding, “On this run we will share our stories and what we have learned through our personal journeys. Most importantly, we will listen, because so many people who are struggling with these issues just need to be heard.”

The Icebreakers will conclude their relay June 9, on the main stage of Mental Health America’s 2016 Annual Conference, outside the Nation’s Capital.

“We’re so pleased to be partnered with the Icebreaker Run this year and with all the great runners who will be participating,” said Paul Gionfriddo, president and CEO of Mental Health America. “The run will provide a window into positive stories about people living with mental health conditions. It fits perfectly into our efforts to promote intervention Before Stage 4, and into the theme of this year’s MHA Annual Conference—Media, Messaging, and Mental Health.”                          

Former NBA player, Chris Herren, will join the Icebreakers on the final leg of their 24-day journey. Then, Herren, whose own powerful story was the subject of ESPN’s Unguarded, will share his journey, as will the Icebreaker team members.

“Every journey starts with just one step and I am extremely grateful that The Herren Project will be part of this incredible relay across the United States to bring awareness to several issues that individuals and families are struggling with nationwide, including addiction and mental illness,” Herren, founder of The Herren Project shared, “I look forward to joining this amazing team of individuals and running the final leg side by side with them as they finish outside Washington, D.C.”


  • Charlie Engle One of the world’s most accomplished ultra runners, Engle has raced around the globe, including 3 Eco-Challenges, and is widely-known for running across the entire Sahara Desert in 2007. He is a motivational speaker, columnist, and author of his memoir Running Man (release date September 2016).
  • David Clark In his best-selling book Out There: A Story of Ultra Recovery, Clark tells the inspirational story of his transformation from obese drug addict to sober vegan and world-class ultra runner. He is a two-time finisher the Badwater 135 in Death Valley. Clark is the owner of Snap Fitness in Louisville, CO.
  • Catra Corbett One of the most prolific and animated ultra runners in the world, Corbett has completed more than 200 ultra marathons and is a John Muir Trail Record Holder. Her favorite running companion is TruMan, her miniature Dachshund. She is a recovering addict and is dedicated to a vegan lifestyle.
  • Pam Rickard Recovering alcoholic and mother of 3, Rickard has run more than 40 marathons and ultra marathons during her 10 years of sobriety. Her story of recovery was feature in the book A Race Like No Other by New York Times write, Liz Robbins. Rickard serves as The Herren Project’s Director of THP RUNS.
  • Sophie Kashurba A former collegiate cross-county runner at Gettysburg College, Kashurba continues to run marathons and ultra marathons. She gives credit to the power of running for helping her heal from a pattern of self harm. Kashurba is Program Director at the Charlotte, NC nonprofit, Running Works. At 23, she is the youngest member of the team.
  • Chris Martin A highly successful serial entrepreneur, Martin has used running to help him recover from years of sometimes debilitating depression. Martin has completed 50+ running events, from 5K to ultra-marathon distance.
  • Bart Yasso (Team Icebreaker Coach) -- Dubbed the “Mayor of Running,” Yasso is the Chief Running Officer for Runners World Magazine. He is the inventor of the “Yasso 800s,” a marathon training schedule used world-wide. In his book My Life on the Run, Yasso highlights his globe-trotting running and his struggles with mental illness and addiction.



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Mental Health America is the nation’s leading community-based non-profit dedicated to helping all Americans achieve wellness by living mentally healthier lives. MHA’s work is driven by its commitment to promote mental health as a critical part of overall wellness, including prevention services for all, early identification and intervention for those at risk, integrated health, behavioral health and other services for those who need them, and recovery as the goal. For more information, visit:

The Herren Project is a non-profit foundation established by former professional basketball player, Chris Herren, to assist individuals and families struggling with addiction. The programs and initiatives developed by The Herren Project are a direct response to the increasing number of people across the United States that are experimenting, using and suffer from addiction to drugs and alcohol; or are at risk for such abuse. Chris’s powerful personal story was the subject of an ESPN 30 for 30 film, Unguarded.  Herren will join the team as a guest runner the last day of the run.  For more information, visit:

500 Montgomery Street, Suite 820
 Alexandria, VA 22314

Phone (703) 684.7722

Toll Free (800) 969.6642

Fax (703) 684.5968

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