On Sunday, October 23rd, Jaala Van Dongen of La Broquerie, MB embarked on a very emotional run. While running is a regular activity of hers, this run took place on the birthday of her late brother, Jonathan (Jon) Ross. Jon, quietly and secretly, faced depression every day. He passed away in 2021 due to suicide when he was just 43. Last year Jaala partnered with Eden Health to run 43miles and raise awareness and funds for Eden Health. This year Jaala decided to again partner with Eden Health and run 4.3 miles every hour, for 24 hours, on her brother’s birthday, to recognize the challenge depression can be for someone, every day.
After running for 3 or 4 hours, Jaala told Director of Development Jayme Giesbrecht, “I just don’t know if I can make it through the day.” That echoes what many people with suicidal thoughts may think as well. Due to an unrelated physical ailment that flared up during the run Jaala was unable to complete the run in full, HOWEVER, her attitude, perseverance, and the message she carries with her, make her an absolute champion. We are so proud to partner with Jaala in this endeavor, and have some funds come our way from those who recognized the importance of having mental health resources available in our community.
Here are some thoughts from Jaala sharing her story and her experience (with excerpts from social media):
“Today the most incredible thing happened. I failed in the goal I set out for myself. I wanted with all my heart to run 100 miles while raising awareness for mental health. My hip flexor started giving me issues at mile 52, so I decided just to walk, which ended up being for another 5.5 hours!! Finally, after 17.5 hours and 101.6km (63.15 miles) my hip flexor seized and I physically couldn’t walk another step, trust me I tried several times. It took a bit, but I realized I hadn’t failed. I ran longer and farther than I ever have, by a huge amount. I pushed myself to the limit that I had in me today. But I never, ever could have done it alone! Through it all I had the support of my friends and family. Even when my bruised and battered body decided it wouldn’t go on, even if my heart wanted to, my friends and family were there to help me pick up the pieces. Find your supports, ask for help. Don’t think you have to go through anything alone!”
I remember telling Jayme Giesbrecht early on that I wasn’t sure if I could make it through the day, because when I was a couple of hours in, the long day ahead feels so daunting. But hour after hour my friends showed up to run with me and each loop brought me one closer to my goal. As the sun rose during my 8th hour, I felt more encouraged than ever, and began to again believe that, yes, I could make it through. I began having a slight pain in my left shin after 10/11 hours, slowly that pain got worse, and my right hip reacted to that. Still, I determinedly kept going for many more hours and loops. I later discovered it was an unrelated medical condition (not caused from running) in my left shin that caused me to favor one leg and threw my body off balance, eventually causing my hip to seize. It may not have been noticeable over a shorter distance, but after that amount of running it definitely affects a body. I still wouldn’t change anything about that day. It has had a profound effect on me personally to take on such a challenge and come through on the other side.
My brother’s passing has had such a huge impact on me and my thoughts on suicide and mental health that I want to share my family’s story and also raise awareness regarding mental health. We discovered that he had silently suffered for over 18 years before losing his battle and I wish he had known of all the resources available to him. I hope that through sharing my journey I can help someone else to find support and strength.