Sign up now for the 2023 Safford Lions 5K & 10K Run & Ride for Mental Health Awareness

Contributed Photo: The 4th annual Safford Lions Club 5K & 10K Run & Ride for Mental Health Awareness is Saturday, Oct. 14.

Contributed Article

SAFFORD – The 4th annual Safford Lions 5K & 10K Run & Ride for Mental Health Awareness is Saturday morning, Oct. 14, at Eastern Arizona College’s Discovery Park Campus.  Bring your family and friends to run, walk, or jog around the computer-timed, groomed  5K path circling the desert and riparian areas of EAC’s Discovery Park.  This year’s event adds a race/ride for BMX and Mountain Bikes.

All paid entries receive a commemorative T-shirt with medals awarded to the first three male and female finishers in the 13-20, 21-30, 31-40, 41-50, 51-60, and 61+ age groups.   Tickets can be purchased through Eventbrite and are $30 with group rates at $25.   Accompanied children under 11 are free and can purchase a t-shirt.

Contributed Photo: Competitor Natalie Waite rounds the corner during a past race. This year will feature a bike ride as well.

Check-in begins at the Discovery Park Barn at 7 a.m. with the BMX and Mountain Bike 5K race starting at 7:30 a.m.  Helmets are suggested.  The 5K walk, jog, & run begins at 8 a.m., followed by the 10K at 8:30 a.m. 

Proceeds from the Safford Lions Mental Health Awareness 5K & 10K Run & Ride help fund EAC’s Counseling Department student crisis counseling as well as Graham County Superior Court’s Diversion Program.  Most of the funding raised by this event comes from local corporate sponsors, businesses, and healthcare providers.

This year’s major sponsors are the United Way of Graham and Greenlee County,  Eastern Arizona College, the Safford Lions Club,  EAC’s Discovery Park, Mt. Graham Regional Medical Center,  Canyonlands Healthcare, NAPA Auto Parts, Kempton Chevrolet & Buick, Farmers Insurance, Awakening Recovery Center, Graham County Substance Abuse Coalition, Gila Valley Clinic and  AZ Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep & Ram of Safford.    Other sponsors include Pepsi, Ice King,  Thriftee Super Market,  Epic Motorsports, and Big 5 Sporting Goods.

Additional information

There has been significant progress and improvement in mental health services in the Gila Valley over the last four years. Through grants from United Way of Graham & Greenlee County, the Graham County Health Department, working with Mt. Graham Regional Medical Center (MGRMC), conducted several comprehensive surveys that identified additional mental health care services as a very high need.

Contributed Photo: Proceeds from the event help fund EAC’s Counseling Department student crisis counseling as well as Graham County Superior Court’s Diversion Program. 

MGRMC updated its strategic plan and created facilities to house outpatient mental health services and successfully recruited psychiatrists.  The Gila Valley Clinic has added a counselor to its staff.  Regionally, La Frontera, an inpatient psychiatric facility opened in Sierra Vista which eliminates the days and sometimes even weeks patients used to wait for admission.  Locally there are three substance abuse centers that provide counseling and medications to allow persons with addiction problems to be able to work and function in their family and society while receiving counseling and decreasing/eliminating their drug dependence.

School counselors and teachers are identifying students with behavioral and emotional problems. Along with their parents, accommodations are being created so children can achieve academic success and improve their mental health.   

We can be thankful for the many improvements but there’s still much more to do. Join the Safford Lions Club, EAC, and United Way of Graham and Greenlee Counties to increase mental health awareness and fund mental health services on Saturday, Oct. 14, at EAC’s Discovery Park during the 5K & 10K Run & Ride for Mental Health Awareness.