The world remains a crazy place while the COVID-19 coronavirus makes us all look pretty stupid. Tallahassee closed out yet another month (July) without an in-person race.

The death toll from the virus took a brief slowdown from its rapid climb but then soared upwards to new heights. Normal seems out of sight for now.

Fortunately, “normal” is not the only option out there.  And it is well worth remembering COVID-19 is not the only battle being fought.

Runners remain a very social group and maintaining the right physical distancing is not easy. While the number of runners, walkers and cyclists have remained strong during the heat of July (for the most part), the opportunities for organized events to bring people together, such as races with a lot of people running together, have been virtually nonexistent.

The loss of the revenues from these events will significantly blunt their efforts. So rather than give up, and look for other alternatives, many have gone to the “virtual” platform. I put the word in quotes because I don’t think it fits, but I guess it is close enough – and if it works.

Hundreds of runners joined in the second Bluebird Run, a charity 5K to raise awareness about suicide prevention held Sept. 4, 2017, at the J.R. Alford Greenway.

This is in fact a good time to raise this issue as the perfect example is coming up.

Since Sept. 7, 2015, the Bluebird Run & Walk for Brookie B. has been the major fundraiser for the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Tallahassee. NAMI describes itself as a grassroots, nonprofit, self-help support and advocacy organization for individuals and their families living with mental health conditions. The organization provides free mental health information and related services in Leon County and throughout the Big Bend area of Florida.

In the following years, not surprisingly they experienced enormous pain and suffering. What was surprising however was the gap in the way suicide prevention and counseling and help was implemented.

Bill and Mary Bowers are participating in the second  Brookie B Bluebird Run on Labor Day at the J.R. Alford Greenway.

Despite the fact that survivors of suicide deaths are twice as likely to take their own lives, there really was no designated outreach program. It became Bill and Mary’s mission. And the Bluebird Run for Brookie B became their method for accomplishing the mission. They have carefully cultivated supporters, built a fun event (although one of the most difficult 5K runs in this area) and begun filling the gap they had identified.

The first Bluebird Run for Brookie B 5K is described on its web page as follows:

The inaugural Bluebird Run & Walk for Brookie B was held on Labor Day of 2015. Over 300 runners and walkers came together to take in the morning air, share stories, and run or walk to support NAMI-Tallahassee’s mission to support those with mental illness, eliminate the stigma associated with the disease, and raise awareness for the need for better prevention and postvention resources.

Hundreds of runners joined in the second Bluebird Run, a charity 5K to raise awareness about suicide prevention held Sep 4, 2017, at the J.R. Alford Greenway.

Brick by brick a quality event has grown. Last year there were 555 Bluebird runners and walkers at J.R. Alford Greenway on Labor Day morning. That (social gathering) was great fun last year but it cannot happen this year, however supporters can still participate by running and donating.

And the Bowers say “we cannot take a year off from spreading our message and soliciting support for suicide awareness and prevention. Under the current social conditions even more people need to know that they are not alone.”

These numbers may not match up to the COVID-19 numbers, but suicide was the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S. in 2018.  A total of 48,344 Americans died by suicide during 2018 and there were an estimated 1.4 million suicide attempts during that period.

If you are looking for a place to put your heart or at least some of your valuable time, Bill and Mary ask for your help as they reach out to those who suffer greatly.  For more information, check out their  website: