The University of Rhode Island is holding its 10th annual “Be 5K run/walk” for mental health awareness and suicide prevention on March 31 on the Kingston Campus.

This event originally started exclusively as a walk and transformed to a 5K run. In the span of the 10 years since its creation, the event has raised over $42,000.

“The proceeds have gone in the last few years to the Heather Fund,” Amy Albert, the community engagement coordinator said. “It is a fund that was started by Roger and Josephine Vennewald, the parents of a student named Heather who attended URI and unfortunately took her life in suicide.”  

The Heather Fund was established in 1996 through the Counselling Center at URI. It works to provide mental health resources for students and promote awareness for suicide prevention on campus. to get programming around mental health and suicide prevention.

“It is a perfect partnership for us, to be able to say that all the proceeds that we get from the event will go to support things like Fresh Check Day and other opportunities on campus,” Albert said.

According to the URI Events website, Fresh Check Day where students are encouraged to engage in dialogue about mental health.  

The organizers are most looking forward to the student participation this year. They are hoping to get at least 300 individuals to register for this event. According to Albert, that would help them raise a little over $3,000 to be able to support further programing on campus.  

Albert wants students to know that there are resources on campus if someone needs them. “We want to make sure that the students know that it’s okay to not be a 100 percent at all times. And to know that it’s okay to have some time for yourself if you’re struggling,” Albert said.

Albert also emphasized that the more students that register for the run, the more they know and can use the different resources for mental health that are available on campus.

“Fresh Check Day and this run are a few of the most important events we hold,” said Alya Alsanea, a psychology major. “I would really love people to see the message behind the 5K run and do it for a good cause.”

Those who cannot participate but want to support the cause can donate either to the Be 5K event or directly to the Heather Fund.

This event encourages all community members and students to participate and support a compelling cause.

“In the past we have had a vast number of community members that comes to run the race but not as many students involved,” Albert said. “We wanted to make sure that all are involved so that know that we are part of the larger URI community and a part of the RI community and we’re all here to support each other. It all comes back to the idea of Be 5K. Its okay to simply ‘Be.’”

The event is taking place this Sunday on the URI Quad from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.. Registration begins at 9:30 a.m. The event costs $25 for students, seniors (ages 55 and above) and veterans. It costs $30 for the general public.