GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Hundreds of runners filled the streets of downtown Grand Rapids Sunday morning to raise awareness for mental health.

The Hope Network Foundation and Celebration Cinema hosted the first-ever Heroes for Hope 5k to raise support for mental health programs. Runners were encouraged to wear superhero costumes to represent the ‘heroes’ of Hope Network. The race was part of the nonprofit’s One in Five Series, which represents the one in five adults who face mental illness. 

“We are all superheroes. I struggle with anxiety and I always tell people that’s my superpower. Like it’s led me to meet people I would never meet, it’s challenged me to grow in ways I never thought I would grow,” 5K participant Kym Matthews said.

Suicide is the third leading cause of death among people ages 10 to 24. Melissa Buege said it’s vital to make sure people know they’re not alone. 

“I’m a suicide survivor. I have two children that also deal with mental illness. I deal with mental illness, have my whole life. It’s a cause near and dear to my heart,” Buege said. “We need to raise more awareness so that the suicide rates the overdose rates, the addiction component … we can start to help these people so that the stigma’s gone.”

The One in Five series not only aims to reduce the stigma surrounding mental illness but also encourages people to get moving to improve their mental health.  

“Any type of exercise is great for mental health, so combining two of my loves, putting them together … what more could you ask for,” Buege said. “More people need to be like me. We need to survive it. We need to know that there’s more to life … that it’s worth living.”