A runner traversing the entire Commonwealth to raise awareness of mental health issues and suicide prevention will likely end its weeklong 370-mile walk in Philadelphia on Sunday.
Cain Leathers has a goal of raising $5,000 for the Trevor Project, a mental health charity focused on LGBTQ+ youth that operates a 24/7 nationwide suicide hotline.
As of Saturday morning, the 27-year-old Philadelphia resident had already raised nearly $4,000 through the Trevor Project website.
She chose to do the race in May, which is Mental Health Awareness Month.
The cause is personal to Leathers, as he has struggled with suicidal ideation in the past. He was briefly hospitalized for these thoughts when he was 17 years old.
Leathers grew up in rural Ohio, where she said it was hard to find people who accepted her queer identity.
“I know what it’s like to be in a world where you feel alone, without having a family around you that you can turn to.” the athlete said.
But over the past 10 years, Leathers has found solace in training for marathons and other long-distance running events. He now he works in the running industry.
“When I run, I can be whoever I want to be,” Leathers said. “You don’t have to pretend. Without hiding. Just me and the road and my boundless ambition.”
He began his journey at the West Virginia border last Sunday and is expected to finish his run at the foot of the Benjamin Franklin Bridge sometime tomorrow.
To do this, he has been running about 40 to 50 miles every day this week.
Leathers has been posting regular updates about her trip with photos on her fundraising page. The journey has reportedly not been easy, but the runner has persevered.
It is estimated that nearly 2 million LGBTQ+ youth seriously consider suicide each year.
Leathers is concerned that this crisis could be made worse by the wave of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation that has been passed in recent months. Many of these bills are aimed at younger members of the queer community.
This includes a Florida law regulating a ban on K-3 teachers discussing gender identity or sexual orientation in the classroom and an Alabama law criminalizing anyone who provides gender-affirming care to a transgender person. under 19 years old.
You can contact the Trevor Project hotline at (866) 488-7386. Counselors are also available via text message or through the charity’s website.