The 437 Project aims to boost physical, mental wellness in S.D.

Courtesy photo: The 437 Project runners, from left are: Alex Pool, Kristen De Berg, Wendy Johnson, Kelly Marshall, Greg Koch, Allison Weber, Matt Smith, Ryan Flogstad, Paul TenHaken, Benson Langat and, not pictured of the 12 runners, Lesley Fite-Boltjes and Whitney Lucas Molitor.

SIOUX FALLS – The 437 Project was born of a passion for bolstering both physical and mental wellness and the often overlooked connection between the two. 

Each year, over 48,000 people in the United States die by suicide leaving behind thousands of loved ones to endure this life-changing loss.

On Sept. 22, a team of 12 community leaders will run 437 miles from Belle Fourche to Sioux Falls to raise funds for The Helpline Center, a resource for individuals affected by suicide. The race will conclude on Sept. 25.

The Helpline Center answers mental health and suicide related calls on both 211 and National Suicide Prevention Lifeline phone lines. 

In 2021, the Helpline Center answered over 15,000 mental health-related calls, with over 2,500 of those being crisis calls. Janet Kittams, the Helpline Center chief executive officer, is championing this partnership on behalf of the great state of South Dakota. 

“Connecting people to mental health support and hope is at the core of the Helpline Center’s mission. We are so proud to be a part of the 437 Project to raise awareness of mental health across South Dakota.”

A team of 12 community leaders will endure the 437-mile run across the state alongside fellow community members who are passionate advocates of mental health. According to runner and Sioux Falls Mayor Paul TenHaken, “Mental health is as important as physical health, and we‘re going to run across this entire state to bring awareness and focus to that conversation.”

TenHaken will be joined by other community leaders, including:

• Kristen De Berg – cardiovascular genetic counselor, Sanford Health

• Lesley Fite-Boltjes – RN, Sanford Hospital

• Ryan Flogstad – sergeant, Sioux Falls Police Department

• Wendy Johnson – director of client services, Electric Pulp

• Greg Koch – owner and founder, 605 Running Co.

• Benson Langat – therapist, Family Service, Inc.

• Whitney Lucas Molitor – assistant professor, University of South Dakota

• Kelly Marshall – account risk manager, Risk Administration Services

• Alex Pool – integration manager, The Helpline Center

• Matt Smith – market president, Dacotah Bank in Sioux Falls

• Allison Weber – relationship manager, Fiserv

For more information about The 437 Project and this inaugural event, visit the437project.org.

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