WALL TOWNSHIP — Transforming tragedy into inspiration, a local family will present the You Are Not Alone 5K and Fun Run next weekend, hosted by the Culley Strong Foundation, at the Wall Township Municipal Complex.
The race is held to raise awareness of mental illness and suicide prevention.
The Culley Strong Foundation was formed after Sean Culley, 19, of Brick Township, took his own life in 2019 after suffering from depression.
In his memory, and to help inspire others who are suffering to seek help, his mother Eileen Culley created the organization, a recognized 501[c]. Since its founding, it has already begun to make a difference for many individuals in the local community, emphasizing mental health and athletics, one of Sean’s passions.
“We have done great things to bring more awareness to mental health and to suicide awareness,” Ms. Culley told The Coast Star. “In 2019 we sponsored two young basketball players to go to a basketball camp because Sean loved basketball … We also gave a scholarship out to a high school senior that year, someone who demonstrated kindness and compassion, which is what Sean was all about.”
Ms. Culley said that her son “was an incredible person. Probably the most unselfish person I’ve known. He was the go-to person. He just instinctively helped others.
“I think because he was hurting so much inside he knew that maybe he couldn’t help himself but he could everybody else who was suffering.”
In 2020, Culley Strong provided five free therapy sessions for an adult male who was clinically depressed, but due to the pandemic and losing his job he could no longer continue therapy at the time.
Ms. Culley said the organization has also donated 200 journals to a crisis center in Monmouth County for children that have had to be hospitalized for mental health issues.
Culley Strong has also teamed up with the Ridge Road Run, a major suicide-prevention fundraising race group from Red Bank Catholic, Red Bank Regional and Rumson-Fair Haven high schools.
“Sean was known to be the go-to kind of kid. He had big broad shoulders to carry everyone else’s concerns. He’d never think twice about helping somebody out,” Ms. Culley said.
The race and festivities on Saturday, July 24 kick off at 9 a.m. There will be a DJ, bagels and refreshments as well as Culley Strong apparel available for sale to help raise more funds for the organization. Race entry is $25.
“Hopefully people that have lost somebody, or people who are struggling can come out and be reminded that they are not alone. We’re in this together. Everybody struggles,” Ms. Culley said.
“It’s going to be just a nice, easy, fun-filled morning bringing awareness and getting together post-COVID.”
This is Culley Strong’s first major event since the pandemic shut everything down last March. Now, the group hopes to continue where it left off and continue helping others in Sean’s memory.
“COVID clearly put a big damper on many things, but particularly being able to do things foundation-wise. So we’re looking to ramp it up and get it started again and get the word out as much as they can so we can help as many people as we can.”
To learn more about the Culley Strong Foundation and to sign up for the race via QR code, visit theculleystrongfoundation.com.
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