A Q&A with Executive Director Dani Rischall
Q: How did Moving for Mental Health get started?
A: Ten years ago I was just starting my job as Executive Director at Chrysalis and quickly realized I could use some additional support in my role. I signed up for a Nonprofit Management Course at Madison College. The course was full of wonderful peer learning opportunities and a great instructor, Boris Frank, a well respected nonprofit management and development consultant. Part of this course was focused on selecting a project where students could work together and receive consulting services from Boris. I was lucky enough to partner with Beth Swanson, a special events planner.
Beth and I worked together to create Moving for Mental Health, a Chrysalis fundraiser and opportunity to promote the value of physical activity on mental wellness. It was very important to us to connect this event to the mission of Chrysalis and not lose sight of this as we continued to plan. We loved the idea of sourcing food from the Chrysalis employer community and bringing our supporters together to connect and build relationships.
Q: What has changed over the past 10 years?
A: Moving for Mental Health started small. In class we often talked about the sneaky expenses that often come with special events and wanted to mitigate these as much as possible. Our first year we have just under 100 participants and raised $3,985. As the event grew so did the participation and the funds we raised. The event has grown to 200+ participants (pre-pandemic) and raised over $15,343 in 2020. Collectively over the past 10 years the event has brought in $89,098 and netted $74,186.
We also grew out of our original location! In 2012, our first year of Moving for Mental Health we hosted the event in our office space and gathered together for a post-race community building in our parking lot. In 2015 we realized we needed a bigger space. We were really excited about moving to Tenney Park as it was still in our neighborhood, offered more amenities, was a beautiful location, and we could use the same course.
Q: Why is Moving for Mental Health important to you?
A: I am proud to share that while the event has grown a ton, some things have stuck around. To me, these are the important things.
- The focus has always been on building community, celebrating wellness, being accessible, and having fun. While we realize there is a race component to Moving for Mental Health we have always made it known that this is not a competitive event. We welcome families, participants young and old with all physical abilities to join. This has also been a super fun way to connect with our community partners as people who have lives outside of the office.
- Food is important. We are bummed to not be able to share snacks this year, but in years past (and hopefully years ahead) we have been able to gather together to enjoy delicious food donated by our wonderful local businesses owners.
- We have the friendliest course markers. Our staff, board members, and Chrysalis participants have been on the course each year motivating runners, helping everyone stay on course, and bringing all the smiles. It is consistently something our race participants comment on and is a huge source of pride.
- Lastly I want to comment on the funds that we have raised over the years. In the nonprofit world having unrestricted funds is extremely valuable. While the dollars might not seem like much year to year, they do add up and they do give us an incredible opportunity to support the Chrysalis mission in innovative ways. Below are a few programs/initiatives that have grown from the funds we have received through Moving for Mental Health.
- Chrysalis Pops, our first Social Enterprise!
- Consumer Advisory Committee. A paid opportunity for Chrysalis participants to gain valuable leadership skills and share their voices.
- Increased Advocacy Efforts. At Chrysalis we recognize we have an important role to play as service providers AND as systems change agents.
Q: Where do you see Chrysalis’ Annual Moving for Mental Health event in another 10 years?
A: Oh this is a fun question! I see the Consumer Advisory Committee and the newly created Chrysalis Clubhouse taking a lot more ownership over the event. In general one of our organizational goals is to center the voices of those with lived experiences in our work. I would like to see how we can continue to do this within Moving for Mental Health.
Another key component of Moving for Mental Health is stigma busting. I see so many wonderful ways we can continue to reduce the stigma connected to mental health and substance use through this event. As we have grown as an agency I have been less involved in the planning and implementation of Moving for Mental Health. I think this is exciting because we continue to have new staff, new participants, and new ideas infused into everything we do. This helps keep the event fresh and fun. It’s exciting to not know what the event is going to look like in 10 years but feel 100% confident that it will continue to be an amazing opportunity to reduce stigma, promote wellness, support the Chrysalis mission, and build community!