The women will depart from the Hilton Garden Inn for the 170-mile run to Surf City at 8 a.m. on May 4.
Called the North Carolina Icebreaker Run, the women will speak openly about their stories and highlight causes for action.
The women participating in the run have been affected directly or through family members by depression, suicide, addiction, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder or other mental health issues.
(More information may be found on the Team Inspire Facebook page)
The event was conceived by Team Inspire, a group of women in Hampstead who have grown together over the past few years into advocates for mental health issues, raising awareness through physical activities, sharing and connecting.
They include Dana Little, 52, who started training for her first marathon when she was 40 after best friend died from cancer. “When I crossed the finish line at the Walt Disney World Marathon, I was hooked. I’ve ran numerous marathons, triathlons and eventually ultra distance marathons in the past decade.
“At each event I leave with more than I brought to the start line. Running has always put me in the right place at the right time.”
Jessica Blackburn, 51, struggled with eating issues due to low self-esteem and anger. “My faith in God has pulled me through to where I am today. Am I complete, no? But by the grace of God I carry on. I have always enjoyed running, so when I started back in my late 40s I felt so free and alive.” Caryn Sutton, 38, is a Surf City resident who found running a form of therapy in the daily struggles of being a working mother with anxiety and daily tension.
Running became her outlet. “I would joke with my husband and instead of telling him I was going out for a run, I’d say I was heading to the shrink.”
Sutton is mother to a 7-year-old boy and over the past few years has ran four half-marathons, countless 5-10Ks, and several triathlons. “The Team Inspire group of amazing ladies has motivated me with continued strength, faith, passion and dedication. I know with every stride I take, I make a difference within myself and hope to inspire others.”
Hampstead resident Christine Whiteley’s family has been impacted by alcoholism, substance abuse, mental illness and suicide.
She has been trained in Mental First Aid, is an active member of several groups to support people who have lost loved ones to suicide, and recently attended a panel discussion on suicide awareness and prevention for LGBTQIA youth. "It is extremely difficult for me to talk about personal experiences. But I try to become knowledgeable and keep my hand out so if anybody needs to grasp it, I am ready."
Kim Martin, 31, of Wilmington, is the wife of one of the pioneers of the Icebreaker Run, Chris Martin.
Her father died of a heroin overdose after battling addiction his whole life.
Rebecca Moxey, 55, a Hampstead resident, is planning the event. She is a recovering alcoholic who has suffered anxiety and PTSD.
She grew up in a family filled with addiction, violence and suicide. She has adult children who have struggled with bipolar and addiction.
In the past year, she has found a purpose and passion in helping others find their road to recovery, as she did. “I found a new family last year with the Icebreaker Runners, Charlie Engle, Chris Martin and Pam Rickard. Defeat the Stigma Project believed in Team Inspire and challenged us to run across North Carolina. We are taking this challenge and using it for good work.
“These people who have recovered and went on to advocate for others through the Icebreaker Run, THP and Defeating the Stigma, have helped me be proud of how far I have come, no longer ashamed, and ready to help others find resources for recovery.”
The run will include a relay of some 10 runners, completing various segments as they cross the state.
The run ends on May 7 at Surf City’s Sound Side Park with a finish party from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.