Don't Struggle In Silence 5K

April 13th, 2024

My name is Emily Sheetz. I am a first year medical student at Eastern Virginia Medical School and the race organizer for Don’t Struggle In Silence 5K run/walk. This event aims to raise awareness for mental health and suicide prevention. Education and communication on mental health conditions is something I feel extremely passionate about. In April of 2012, I lost my oldest sister, Courtney, to suicide. Courtney suffered through many years of self harm and eating disorders, and although my parents tried everything in their power to help her, nothing worked. For the first several years after my sisters death, I would never mention her during conversations with friends. The stigma surrounding mental health prevented me from sharing the impact it had on my family. However, I now share my story without the fear of being judged or looked down upon. Losing my sister to suicide is a part of me, and it should not be accompanied by shame or guilt. I want to use my voice and experience to show others that it is okay to speak out and ask for help. No one should (or deserves to) struggle in silence.  As a community, it is important that we uplift and support each other through times of difficulty. This event is a great way to raise money for the Sarah Michelle Peterson Foundation, however, it is also a wonderful opportunity to create more connections and bonds within the Norfolk community. It allows for individuals to recognize that they are not alone in their struggles, and that mental health conditions can affect anyone at anytime.  The Don’t Struggle In Silence 5k will be hosting its inaugural run/walk on April 13th, 2024 along the scenic Elizabeth River Trail. Proceeds raised will be donated to a local organization, the Sarah Michelle Peterson Foundation.