Charity walk/run to honour departed BC youth

Event to be held in support of families and students who suffer from depression & social anxiety

The first annual Nicholas’s Run For Youth Mental Health will take place at Pioneer Park in Kamloops on Nov. 4 to raise $5,000 for the Nicholas Zhou Legacy Fund at the BC Interior Community Foundation.

Zhou, a graduate of Sa-Hali Secondary School, took his own life last November due to mental health struggles.

“[Zhou] [went] through a depression, [then] went into [a] coma,” said his mother, Rie Takahashi. “I don’t think [Zhou] remembers what happened to him.”

“Depression is not only that person’s illness, it’s spread to people around them. [Support] needs to be there, and if the kid who is suffering is open enough to get the support… If those two things co-existed together, I think that person will get better help,” said Takahashi.

After the funeral service for Zhou, Lisa Imeson, one of Zhou’s high school teachers, asked Takahashi if they could host a run to honour his memory.

Imeson was the organizer of the school’s run club, and Zhou was a member. “He took the role as a recruiter [for the run club], so every run, he was bringing all kinds of different kids to the run [club],” said Takahashi. “I think that when you’re exercising, your mind just [focuses] on what you’re doing, you don’t have to dwell on your struggle. He loved it.”

Takahashi and Imeson are distributing wristbands with four different messages:

  • “And still, I rise”
  • “HUGS, hugs are great!”
  • “Vulnerability, not a weakness”

“‘Hugs, hugs are great,’ that was Nicholas’s saying to everybody,” said Takahashi. “Since he was little, he loved to give a hug to everybody. It made people uncomfortable. Some people don’t want to be touched.”

“Nicholas was [a] very empathetic child, very kind, very helpful, and he was very open to all the friends as well,” said Takahashi. “There was a core group of really good friends around him, and everybody [talked] to Nicholas freely. He was almost like a gathering-place kind of boy. He was the one carrying the pain, but he didn’t openly share about it. He was taking other people’s need before him. He was always that kind of boy. He [took] care of other people’s need and [put] himself last.”

Online registration for the event closes at 12:00 p.m. on Nov. 3, and on-site registration will remain open until 8:30 a.m. on November 4. Recommended donations range from $25 for adults, $15 for youth & young adults ages 15 to 24. Attendance for children younger than age 14 is free. Pets are also welcome to join this run, which will start at 9:30 a.m. and end at 12:00 p.m.

For more information or to contribute to the Nicholas Zhou Legacy Fund, visit their website or attend the Saturday event.