FOND DU LAC (NBC 26) — Cheryl Louden is running for a purpose.
“I've ran every day straight since July 30,” Louden said. “I haven't taken a day off. I think last year I ended the year with just over 2,000 miles.”
The second-grade Fond du Lac teacher will be running the Boston Marathon this April to raise money for YScreen, a nonprofit that works to screen students in her school district for mental health concerns.
“We want to identify it early, so that we can get we help get resources in place before it becomes a crisis,” YScreen Program Coordinator Tammi Kohlman said. “So, in doing so, we help identify early stages of things such as anxiety and depression, substance abuse, suicidal thoughts, and then really work to help parents get their youth connected to services.”
For Cheryl, mental health intervention is personal.
“Two years ago this February, my sister took her life,” Louden said. “She struggled for 10 years with mental health issues and with alcoholism, and it finally just got to be too much.”
Cheryl’s sister Kelly was 41 and left behind two boys.
She’s running in her sister’s honor, who dreamed of running a marathon one day.
“It's very inspiring. . . But, to perhaps, like, make a difference in someone else's life, in her honor, makes everything worth it,” Louden said.
She hopes the money she raises through running the marathon can help others, like kids in the school district in which she teaches.
“Whether it's the middle schoolers or the high schoolers, if they get that needed help ahead of time, I feel they'll have the stepping stones that they need to be successful in life,” Louden said. “I think for my sister, it was too late.”
This comes as the CDC released data on Monday showing almost 3 in 5 U.S. teen girls felt “persistently sad or hopeless” in 2021.
That’s nearly double the rate of those feelings in boys, and the highest level reported in the past decade.
Kohlman says YScreen has seen this trend in their own screening.
“Part of it could be that they're more willing to share when they're struggling,” Kohlman said. “I think there's still a lot of, you know, the male stereotypes where boys feel less able to share what's going on. So I think that that could definitely be part of it.”
The program screens all 9th graders in Fond du Lac County Schools who opt-in, and other students by referral, and Kohlman said they hope to expand it further.
You can visit YScreen’s website to donate to Cheryl’s running for mental health fundraiser.
If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts, you can call the national suicide hotline at 988 or visit the Suicide Prevention Resource Center.