This year’s second annual Ruck It Up event in support of mental health initiatives and suicide prevention by Journey to Hope Moose Jaw successfully raised $10,000, which was presented by organizers on June 21.
“Journey to Hope is so grateful for the work that Tyler Simpson, Chris Robart, and Brett Hagan have done,” said Della Ferguson, a Journey to Hope member.
Ferguson said that Ruck It Up is doing important work raising awareness of the importance of staying mentally healthy, finding tools and coping mechanisms to support mental health, and breaking stigmatization.
“Having it come from men is just such a helpful thing,” she added. “The other thing is that the idea of rucking is a fairly new concept, and it’s such a wonderful health wellness strategy. We’re so grateful to (the Ruck It Up organizers) for bringing that awareness to another mental health strategy.”
Hagan explained in a previous story that rucking is a verb meaning to walk with a weighted rucksack/backpack. Hagan makes regular rucks around Moose Jaw, and adds exercises such as push-ups and squats as part of his fitness routine.
The name of the event comes from the out-dated “code of silence” mentality, Hagan said. Men, in particular, have been expected to “suck it up” when it comes to being in pain and experiencing suffering.
Don’t suck it up — ruck it up is the resulting motto.
Last year’s inaugural march through Wakamow Valley raised just over $7,500.
“It definitely did help us to have the extra things like the penny parade and the gifts from local businesses,” Hagan said. “We also received a lot of help from Bart Mihalicz at William Grayson.”
Mihalicz has had a mullet for the last few years. He explained in a May 3 Facebook post that he had initially grown the hairstyle to be trendy.
In coordination with the Canadian Mental Health Association, he decided to raise money to “Tame the Mane” and donate the proceeds to Ruck It Up. He and the Grade 7/8 class at William Grayson School did a drive to cut his hair.
The students raised over $500 by themselves, and another $1,200 with community help. Mihalicz donated his newly shorn locks to an organization that makes wigs for children.
“Myself and one of the representatives from Journey to Hope went by and thanked him and his class,” Hagan said. “We talked about what the raising of funds does for Journey to Hope and how it definitely helps.”
Mihalicz and one of his students also participated in the ruck itself.
Eighty-eight participants rucked about 6 kilometres through Wakamow Valley. Hagan, Simpson, and Robart made the walk/hike somewhat more challenging this year, and were happy to receive a positive response to the upgrade.
“We had anywhere from four or five years old up to, well, my dad is 72, and I think there were a couple people a little older than that,” Hagan laughed. “We even had a baby in a stroller for portions of it. That was neat to see.”