After being pulled in so many directions at school, the sudden shift to having so much free time can trigger boredom, frustration, and can even challenge a student’s emotional health. A group of friends home from college chose to use this time to not only take care of their own mental and physical health but to bring awareness to mental health while fundraising for Erika’s Lighthouse.

Sam Shrier, a 2018 New Trier High School grad, had been training for a marathon for a few months and decided to commit his run to support an important cause, choosing to raise money for Erika’s Lighthouse.

“We chose Erika’s Lighthouse because we thought its mission is very fitting to the current times, being that Covid has taken a large mental health toll on everybody. We knew of the good work they do through their connections at New Trier High School,” said Same Shrier.

Sam remembered the positive impact of Erika’s Lighthouse programs from his time at New Trier in Wilmette, IL. Seeing the extremely negative impact the coronavirus pandemic has had on the emotional well-being of teens and young adults, he reached out to friends and family with our mission and the important message that, “Now, more than ever, organizations like Erika’s Lighthouse deserve all the support and attention they can get,” said Sam.

Sam’s passion for the mission inspired his brother and some friends to join him in supporting Erika’s Lighthouse in providing a message of hope that raises awareness about adolescent depression, promoting good mental health, empowering teens, and supporting educators with no-cost depression education programming.

Sam’s friend Johnny Kelley also committed his marathon to Erika’s Lighthouse. And their friends went all-in with them: Henry Shrier, class of 2020, and Will Thompson each committed an iron-man distance bike ride (112 miles), Jay Severis swam iron-man distance (2.4 miles) in arctic conditions, and Ra Kazadi donated two pieces of art.

“It was an honor to raise money for such a worthy cause,” Henry Shrier shared.

As of this writing, this group of friends has raised almost $24,000. And their outreach continues! You can be a part of this extraordinary effort by donating to their fundraiser here.

What started as a fun idea among friends quickly became something bigger than any of them had imagined.  These funds will help Erika’s Lighthouse continue educating teens and changing school cultures to be more inclusive, empathetic, and knowledgeable about depression and mental health. These contributions provide the necessary fuel for our 2021 goals including expanding the programming to fourth and fifth graders, supporting teen clubs, and enhancing the information shared on the free Resource Portal.

Erika’s Lighthouse is grateful for the compassion and commitment to these remarkable men.

Erika’s Lighthouse is determined to make sure no young person feels alone in their depression. We are dedicated to creating a community of empathy and education. Our middle school and high school teen depression awareness programs have been developed so educators and teens can create safe spaces to learn about depression, letting students know they are never alone, and there is somewhere to turn.

Are you interested in volunteering? There are many ways you can help. Together we can Get Depression Out of the Dark.

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