Queen’s grads run 254 km for mental health on Homecoming

24 Hours to Queens Group to complete day-long trek from Toronto to Kingston

24 Hours to Queen’s pictured in white jackets (front).
Image supplied by: Supplied by Ryan Aimers
24 Hours to Queen’s pictured in white jackets (front).

This Homecoming, 10 Queen’s alumni are running from Toronto to Kingston, raising money for mental health awareness with a 250-kilometre trek.  

The group departed for campus on Thursday, and are aiming to complete the run in under 24 hours. 

The group of former housemates, classmates, and lifelong friends decided to challenge themselves to run 254 km—a reference to the student house address on Alfred Street that most of the group lived in during their time at Queen’s. 

The run will be completed as a relay-style expedition, with each member running in increments of five kilometers, at a total of 29 km per runner. 

Among the group is Ryan Aimers, Comm ’15, who proposed the idea to his colleagues. 

“The whole run has been an idea for a while but it really came together within the last month,” Aimers said. 

Aimers explained the group is attempting to complete the run in less than 24 hours, with the hope of arriving at their former house before 6 p.m. Friday. 

“The whole way we set this up is so it is achievable, but by all means it will be a challenge and will not be easy,” he said. 

Aimers said the group will equally split the run. Each person will run and drive the bus in increments of five kilometers, and have a remaining 40 kilometres to rest.

Hoping to make an impact, the group also decided to use the run as an opportunity to raise money and spread awareness for mental health.

“The challenge that we’re completing is only a matter of 24 hours,” Amiers said. “What we’re doing is nothing compared to the challenges people with mental illness struggle with every day [sic].”

Funds raised from the run will be donated to the mental health organization Mind Over Miles, who will then direct proceeds to the Murphy Centre for Mental Health at Sunnybrook Hospital. 

“All of us are more than happy to go through this challenge and this struggle together to help raise money for mental health awareness,” Aimers said.

The Mind over Miles organization is a Toronto-based club founded by Queen’s Alum and fellow colleague Virginia McKinnel, who was inspired to start the organization after struggling with bipolar disorder.

In an interview with The Journal, McKinnel said the primary goal of Mind over Miles is to create a community of positive minded, running enthusiasts who share the common goal of ensuring mental illness is viewed the same as any other illness.

“I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder in my first semester in my first year at Queen’s,” McKinnel said. “I was only 18 years old, and I wasn’t ready to fully accept my mental illness.”

She said the challenges she faced as a result of Bipolar Disorder could’ve been more manageable if she had access to more resources.

Reflecting on her own experiences, McKinnel said she, “wish[ed] there had been something I could watch, or a person to reach out to who was in a similar situation as me so that I could understand it a bit better and not feel quite so alone.”

As the founder of Mind over Matter, McKinnel said the awareness raised from her videos and the organization alone has touched a wide variety of people across the province.

Mckinnel said the group havsalready raised approximately $9,400 and counting—almost double their goal of at least $5,000. 

The group is still accepting donations—McKinnel said the final cheque won’t be delivered until Sunday. 

“I hope everyone at Queen’s is able to give a warm welcome to the guys coming in from the run,” he said. 

The group of 10 are projected to arrive at their former home on Albert Street at approximately 6 p.m.

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