The NCANA Run for Joy is a 5K race that supports mental health advocacy and wellness for health care trainees. Mental health issues and suicide are becoming increasingly common among health care trainees and providers. Training programs are usually very rigorous, caring for patients is stressful, and those who care for others often feel that they can’t or shouldn’t admit that they need care themselves. Unfortunately, there is often a stigma associated with mental illness, and trainees may feel that admitting that they struggle could damage their careers.
Run for Joy seeks to combat this stigma and support the mental wellness of heath care trainees. Proceeds from the race help finance initiatives that enhance mental wellness and provide support for those needing mental health services. Donations and race proceeds are managed by Run for Joy, Inc, a charitable organization established for this purpose. Run for Joy was started after the tragic death of Katelyn Joy Beardsley. Katelyn was a vibrant young woman who brought immense joy to everyone who knew her. She had a strong love for God and for people. She was unapologetically authentic and could sit with people in their deepest sadness or laugh with them in their highest joys. Katelyn actively counseled and encouraged many others in the midst of their depression, and we know lives were preserved because of her. Katelyn also loved running, which was her favorite way to combat her own depression and anxiety. In the summer of 2018, Katelyn enrolled in the Nurse Anesthesia program at Wake Forest University School of Medicine to fulfill her life-long dream of becoming a CRNA. Unfortunately, that dream was never realized. On June 11, 2020, two months prior to graduation, Katelyn died by suicide. We will never know all the things that led to this tragic end to such a beautiful life. Because Katelyn was high functioning and upbeat, no one saw this coming. Data show that many others are struggling like Katelyn. Run for Joy seeks to bring help and awareness to this critical situation.