Content warning: this article includes references to suicide.
Every year hundreds of people around the motu get their move on, whatever that looks like to them, while raising funds for the Mental Health Foundation to help create better mental health outcomes across Aotearoa.
For some of our incredible fundraisers this means taking part in running events, from 5km fun runs, all the way to ultramarathons. We spoke with Georgia Dougherty who is taking part in the Auckland Half Marathon as she gears up for her run having raised over $5,000.
Running a half marathon is no mean feat, what was your motivation to take part?
I have always wanted to push myself to achieve the challenge of running a half marathon. I love to be active and know that this would be a great physical and mental challenge. I specifically wanted to run the Auckland event because I think it will be a cool experience to run over the harbour bridge. I have been thinking about running a half marathon for many years but have had several injures get in the way. The challenge is also on my 30 things I would like to do before I turn 30 list, and that's only a few months away!
What inspired you to fundraise for the Mental Health Foundation?
Nearly six years ago my dad passed away from his own mental health battles. I still hurts knowing that he felt being at peace was the option he needed to take to face his battles. I am a secondary school health and PE teacher so I was already teaching my students about positive mental health. Since Dad's passing, I have been actively advocating for positive mental health with friends, whānau and the community, in addition to my teaching.
Fundraising for MHFNZ is one small way more people can receive information and support for their own mental health. I'll be running for Dad.
How have you found the experience of training alongside fundraising?
Juggling life alongside training and fundraising has been pretty time and energy consuming (especially because I've moved back to New Zealand from Australia and started a new job at the same time). I've had lots of days when I did not want to put my shoes on because I was tired, I was busy, the weather wasn't great or I just had low motivation. But to get out, I would constantly remind myself why I am fundraising and who I am running for.
Whenever I received donations to my fundraising page it was often the motivator I needed to put my shoes on.
I knew I couldn't let my donors down! I also enjoyed writing my little run updates on my page for people to see where I've been running.
Your goal was to raise $1,000 and you’re currently sitting at over $5,000 raised, that’s amazing! Can you tell us what you’ve been doing to fundraise?
I am blown away that I've raised over $5,000. There has been a lot of mahi behind the scenes, so I am really proud of what I have been able to achieve. I know so many people will benefit from this money. Some things I have done over the last six months to fundraise:
- During my first three weeks of fundraising for every $10 donation I ran 1km. This was a great way to get my training started and the donations rolling in
- I contacted dozens of local businesses in Adelaide and ran a raffle for three hampers with donated goods
- I ran a ‘Steptember’ for three weeks. If someone donated $10 I would take their dog out for a 30 minute walk or run. It was a great way to meet new people (and dogs).
- I created and hosted a quiz night with nearly 90 people and raised over $1,700 in one night. I was also able to talk about mental health and share information about where to seek help and resources.
How are you feeling just a few days out from the half marathon?
I feel like this has been a long time coming, so I'm ready to tackle the challenge. Since signing up for the half marathon I have run 320km, but even so, I don't think I've trained enough. I'm not applying any pressure on myself, I just want to finish and I know there will be plenty of motivators on the day.
For anyone wanting to make a difference and fundraise for the Mental Health Foundation, or any other cause close to their heart, what advice do you have?
Everything counts. Every time you fundraise $1, that's $1 more than before. Every conversation you have will be greater understanding and awareness than before. Every milestone you reach feels so good. So, give it a crack, it's truly worth it.
Kia kaha! Good luck to Georgia and everyone taking part in the Auckland Marathon and all the other running events around the motu.
If you want to support Georgia’s incredible mahi you can donate to her fundraising efforts here: https://aucklandmarathon2023.grassrootz.com/mhfnz/georgia-dougherty
Or take the leap and sign up for your own fundraiser.
You don’t need to run a marathon for your mental health (but if you want to, ka pai!). Just like mental health, movement looks different for everyone. No matter your ability, you can get involved in Move for Mental Health. Maybe you’re working towards some mobility goals, you want to take your tamariki for a walk around the neighbourhood each morning over summer, or lead a fitness class in your community. Your movement matters. And every dollar you raise helps fund our mahi to create an Aotearoa where all people can enjoy positive mental health and wellbeing.