Darius Sam has again decided to raise funds for a very worthy cause.

The distance runner announced two weeks ago that he would be redoing his extreme marathon of 100 miles on Dec. 5, after realizing that his summer run for the Nicola Valley Food Bank had ‘only’ been 89 miles.

At the time, he decided not to raise funds, simply awareness for mental health and addiction counselling.

But after some advice and careful consideration, he changed his mind.

He will now be raising money for the Nicola Valley Community Human Services Association, better known as Nicola Family Therapy.

“I got a few emails…they weren’t being rude, but they were asking, why not raise money? And it got me thinking, ya, I guess they are right, in a way. I could definitely find some organization in need.”

Sam then made a post on Facebook for suggestions. What stood out to him was people suggesting NFT as a worthy cause.

He called them, and asked what they needed. What stood out to him was the fact that there was funding for both women and children who needed counselling, but none for men.

“Men have to pay out of pocket. There’s no free programs or anything like that in Merritt.”

The stigma behind men’s depression runs deep – according to the Canadian Institute of Health Research, four out of every five suicides in Canada are men.

What Sam’s goal is, through raising awareness for NFT’s GoFundMe page with his Dec. run, is to help create a free program in the Nicola Valley for men.

Sheri Bishop, the executive director of NFT, is running the GoFundMe page, which can be found by going to GoFundMe and searching ‘100 miles for men’s counselling.’

“(Sheri) was telling me that that is the problem in town.”

It’s a situation that hits hard for Sam – he himself sees a counsellor, and wants men to understand that there is absolutely no shame in receiving mental help.

“I understand that men need to deal with their trauma as well. Everybody has their problems. It’s such a stereotypical thing to say, ‘suck it up, don’t talk about it, and move on. I think that’s bulls—, honestly.”

Sam told the Herald that what sold him on the project was the story of a male in town who called, and called, and called around town with a cry for help. NFT took him in.

He spoke of the connection between addiction awareness and mental health – if you don’t deal with trauma properly, it can lead you down a slippery slope.

“I feel like we can help people not go in that direction, to create a free men’s counselling program here in Merritt. I think that that would be huge, and make quite the difference.”

Bishop, through the GoFundMepage, said they hope to raise enough funds to hire a trained male counsellor, before working on securing the necessary dollars to keep the program running for years to come.

A direct link to the GoFundMe page can be fund here.