Fort McMurray local, Julio Florez, is undertaking a walkathon to bring mental health to light in the RMWB and beyond. On February 4th, Florez will walk the trails from 7:00 AM to 7:00 PM. The walk will start and end by Doug Barnes Cabin at the entrance to the trails.
Florez is inspired by his life experiences: in 2016, his son, Ben Florez, passed away. This year’s walkathon marks what would have been Ben’s 25th birthday. The walkathon will not only raise funds for mental health resources in our region, but will also help celebrate Ben’s life, and encourage conversations about mental health.
“Like many of us, Ben would feel overwhelmed by some of life’s challenges and often found refuge being outdoors and surrounded by nature – as I often do too,” said Florez. “In addition to the 12-hour walk through the Birchwood trails, I want to help normalize the conversation about mental health, how it affects us all and the importance of seeking professional help. It is because of professional guidance and physical activity that I have been better able to deal with my own grief and challenges. Please join me on the journey to raise awareness and support mental wellness in our communities by ‘Walking for Ben’ or donating to the Canadian Mental Health Association in Fort McMurray.”
Canadian Mental Health Association Wood Buffalo states 70% of mental health problems have their onset during childhood or adolescence. Young people ages 15 – 24 are more likely to experience mental health and/or substance use disorders than any other age group.
“Our region needs to encourage more youth to feel comfortable to reach out for support, but stigma remains a barrier,” said CMHA Community Relations Manager, Emma Jones. “CMHA Wood Buffalo commends Julio for taking a tragic event to support other families facing a similar journey by raising awareness and funding for mental health programs. He is creating positive change in our community.”
Join Julio on his journey to raise awareness and support mental health programs in The Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo by ‘Walking for Ben’ or donating to Julio’s fundraising page that goes to support CMHA – Wood Buffalo and Some Other Solutions.
Support Julio by joining him on February 4th by walking the Birchwood trail, or by following his steps on Facebook. You can also support mental health programs and services by donating to the fundraising page. View his video message here.