Former Saultite Anthony Petten is taking bold action in the name of mental health.
He plans to walk 305 km from Longlac, Ontario to Thunder Bay, Ontario, starting at the Longlac church which recently burned down and ending at the Terry Fox monument. Although an official start date has not been announced (he had originally planned on starting on June 11th but it has been postponed), Petten is planning to complete the journey this summer.
His goal is to raise funds for the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), as well as awareness for mental health issues and those suffering from mental illness.
When asked about his personal inspiration to take on such a journey, Petten told SaultOnline “I have recently overcome depression, and for years I’ve struggled with my mental health. I am actually in the process of reducing my anti-depressants so that I can be medication-free.” He continued, “so many people are scared and ashamed about their mental health issues and I want them to know that they shouldn’t be. It’s just another sickness, another illness that can be monitored and cared for.”
But this is no small task or statement being made. In terms of training for a walk of this magnitude, Petten said “I’ve been training, I could probably be in better shape, but hey – Terry Fox did what he did with a prosthetic leg back when the technology wasn’t that great. So, is there really an excuse?”
Petten’s take-on-the-world attitude is largely inspired by Terry Fox, who has tattooed on his arm.
To up the ante, Petten intends to wear a 50-pound weighted vest and carry a 45-pound barbell on his shoulders. The significance? “To symbolize the burden that those who are suffering from mental health issues carry with them everyday, whether you see it or not. And most of the time, you don’t see it. They hide it or we hide it.”
There are many ways to get involved with this initiative. Businesses or organizations looking to get involved can act as sponsors, and individuals are welcome to walk or run alongside Petten – carrying weights or not – all in the name of mental health.
Petten has the ambitious goal of raising $100,000 for the CMHA, which you can help him reach by clicking to here to donate.
He also encourages you to get in touch with him on Facebook for more details.
Stay tuned on ONNtv/SaultOnline as we follow Petten’s journey and provide you updates on his plans and the launch date.