Huntley man to run 115 kilometers to bring awareness to firefighters' suicide statistic

  • Ryan Mains takes a minute to enjoy the view during his last Run For Our Lives challenge in 2019. This year's event is May 22.

    Ryan Mains takes a minute to enjoy the view during his last Run For Our Lives challenge in 2019. This year's event is May 22. Courtesy of Ryan Mains

  • Courtesy of Teresa KennedyThis the NEIPA offered by the Black & Gray Brewing Co. in East Dundee to support the Run For Our Lives challenge by Ryan Mains.

    Courtesy of Teresa KennedyThis the NEIPA offered by the Black & Gray Brewing Co. in East Dundee to support the Run For Our Lives challenge by Ryan Mains.

 
 
Posted5/12/2021 6:00 AM

There were 115 firefighters/paramedics in the U.S. who died by suicide in 2020.

It is a staggering statistic that doesn't get much publicity. But Ryan Mains of Huntley aims to make sure more people are made aware of the dire situation.

 

In 2019, Mains started the Run For Our Lives fundraiser to benefit the Illinois Firefighter Peer Support Team, a peer support network for the mental and physical health of firefighters/paramedics. Mains, a Woodstock firefighter, suffered from PTSD in 2016. He credits the Illinois Firefighter Peer Support Team with saving his life after his wife contacted them in 2019.

No one knows the stressors of the job better than fellow firefighters. The support organization offers individual peer support with alcohol/drug abuse, depression, anxiety, insomnia or PTSD; immediate group needs, which helps a shift crew reacting to a traumatic event; family outreach presentations; and department outreach presentations.

To help bring awareness, Black & Gray Brewing Co., 311 Barrington Ave., East Dundee, has released its #endthestigma Session NEIPA.

The beer is available on tap at the brewery. A canned version will be available at local Woodman's grocery stores.

Black & Gray Brewing Co. will donate 10% from all sales of #endthestigma to the Illinois Firefighter Peer Support Team in Mains' name.

by signing up you agree to our terms of service
                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

This year's run will be May 22. Mains will run 115 kilometers, a little more than 71 miles, in honor of the lives lost and in hopes of raising money to help those who can be saved.

For more information about Illinois Firefighter Peer Support, visit www.ilffps.org.

To make a donation, visit www.ilffps.org/run-for-our-lives/.

Mains talks about his upcoming challenge, and Teresa Kennedy, CEO of Black & Gray Brewing Co., discusses how the brewery became associated with the cause.

• • •

Ryan Mains on why he runs

Run For Our Lives is a fundraiser that raises money for Illinois Firefighter Peer Support (www.ilffps.org), an organization that helps firefighters who are struggling with mental health.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

They are 100% donation funded. They played an instrumental role in getting me the help I needed in 2019 when I was having a mental health crisis as a result of my work-related PTSD.

I started organizing and planning for RFOL later that year as a way to show my gratitude for the help that they gave my wife and me in my time of need.

RFOL is a virtual race open to the public. After registering, participants have until May 22 to accrue the predetermined distance, which is based on the number of firefighter/paramedics who have died by suicide the previous year.

Last year's event was 130 kilometers, based on 130 firefighter/paramedics who died by suicide in 2019. This year's number is 115 kilometers, based on that same statistic for 2020.

On May 22, I will be completing the same distance as an ultra marathon. The day of the event, we have a big social media presence and ask for spectators to come out and cheer me on along the route.

The route I run will be from the Woodstock Square in downtown Woodstock along the bike path that connects Woodstock and Crystal Lake. From there, I will get on the Illinois Prairie Path and run south to St. Charles, where I'll turn around and run the same route back.

I'll be starting at midnight May 22 and hope to finish sometime around 5 or 6 p.m. that day.

The money we raise comes from a combination of race registrations, sponsors, and in-kind donations. Last year, we were able to raise around $18,000.

Last year, we had 130 participants for the virtual event and this year we have around 100 signed up.

If anyone would like to volunteer their time the day of my run, they can sign up to do so at raceroster.com/events/2021/37481/run-for-our-lives-virtual-race-2021/volunteer.

To make a donation, visit www.ilffps.org/run-for-our-lives/.

• • •

Courtesy of Teresa KennedyTeresa Kennedy, CEO of Black and Gray Brewing Co. in East Dundee.
Courtesy of Teresa KennedyTeresa Kennedy, CEO of Black and Gray Brewing Co. in East Dundee.
Teresa Kennedy on why she got involved

We were introduced to Ryan and his Run For Our Lives event as they were planning the first run in 2019.

My husband is a lieutenant with the Elgin Fire Department, and the Elgin L439 union president, Joe Galli, reached out to us to see if we wanted to get involved.

As we feel first responder mental health crises is a very important issue -- and one that gets very little attention -- we enthusiastically agreed.

We felt the best way to raise money and awareness was to do what we do best -- make beer (because it sure isn't running!). We came up with a new recipe for a session New England India pale ale (session is a lower alcohol version) and pledged 10% of all sales to the Illinois Firefighter Peer Support Team, which is the same organization that Ryan's run raises money for.

We also agreed to be a pit stop location for the day of his run, as his route leads him down the bike path that is right next to our taproom in East Dundee.

I went down to the taproom and met Ryan and his team at 4 a.m. We then hosted a watch party for those cheering Ryan on that afternoon as he came back on his way to Woodstock.

We are proud to say that #endthestigma (the beer we brewed for the event) was very well received and sold very quickly. We were able to donate more than $800 to the Illinois Firefighter Peer Support Team.

This year, we tripled production of the beer. It will be released in the taproom on April 30. We are also canning #endthestigma, and that will be available in 4-packs starting May 12.

We already have preorders from five Woodman's locations (Carpentersville, Lakemoor, Rockford, North Aurora, and Buffalo Grove), as well as some local craft beer stores (Garfield's in Barrington and Crystal Lake), and we are looking forward to increasing the amount we are able to donate to this worthy cause.

For more information, call (224) 484-8200.

0 Comments
                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Get articles sent to your inbox.

Article Comments ()
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.