University Baptist Church is hosting the Franklin All Nighter, where participants will walk and run an approximately one-mile loop around Franklin Street throughout the night to raise money for mental health services in the area.
The event will begin at sunset on Nov. 5 and continue until sunrise on Nov. 6. Participants do not have to walk or run the entire night.
The registration fee is $30, and individuals or groups can sign up to raise additional funds. UBC’s monetary goal for the fundraiser is $20,000. Already, UBC has raised over $14,300 as of Oct. 25.
The idea for the Franklin All Nighter began with Paul Burgess, the senior pastor at UBC.
“It's important to me, as a leader of a faith community, that voices from the faith community speak out and say, 'This is important, this is real and it's okay to seek help,'" Burgess said.
Burgess said he participated in a similar fundraiser last year, when he ran all night during the winter solstice and raised $8,000 for mental health services. He said he had enjoyed the experience and it inspired him to organize the Franklin All Nighter for Chapel Hill.
“It was a rainy night, which was not ideal, but that's okay,” Burgess said. “You can't control mental illness like that either. So you just got to push for it.”
Some of the money raised will go to UNC Counseling and Psychological Services and Orange County’s Street Outreach, Harm Reduction and Deflection Program (SOHRAD).
Burgess said CAPS will use the money for copays for appointments or to financially assist uninsured students. SOHRAD will use the money to help people experiencing homelessness in Orange County purchase medication for mental illness treatment.
Megan Facer, a member of the planning committee for the Franklin All Nighter, said other funds from the event will be set aside for a scholarship UBC is creating, through which campus organizations will be able to apply for grant money for wellness activities or projects. The exact parameters for the scholarship have not yet been determined.
A licensed marriage and family therapist at Youth Villages, Facer said she has a passion for improving mental health in her professional life and that some of her loved ones have struggled with substance use.
She said she plans to walk at the Franklin All Nighter, and she set a goal of 26 miles to complete throughout the night.
“There's always opportunities to increase more affordable ways for people to access care,” Facer said.
John Whitley, a data manager for the UNC Adams School of Dentistry Graduate Program in Orthodontics and a member of UBC, is also signed up for the Franklin All Nighter.
Whitley has worked at UNC for 43 years, and he said he understands the need for mental health services among students.
“UNC has such a high level of standards that some students I’ve known, they get overburdened by everything that's around them,” he said. “They don't think they're doing good enough, and just everything seems to crash.”
So far, he said he has raised over $1,000 and hopes to walk 15 to 20 miles throughout the night.
During the event, UBC will have various activities set up at the church, including booths from wellness organizations, musical performances and a yoga class during the night, according to UBC members.
Burgess said mental health awareness has the potential to create a snowball effect, where it can spread throughout a community and make more people feel more comfortable seeking help when they need it.
“Mental illness can feel like a season of darkness," Burgess said. "But if you have people to run the journey with you, you can push forward together to the light."
People interested can sign up at the event's website.
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