ZACH MAKES TRACKS
Zach’s mission has been to inspire mental health awareness and discussion for all youth.
I’m Zach. I’m now 17 and getting ready to attend post secondary school. My goal is to become a high school Physical and Health Education teacher. Mental health is still a very important topic in our home, and we still have a long way to go to make sure everyone has access to appropriate treatment when they need it.
In August of 2017, I ran, walked and biked from Barrie to Ottawa to raise funds and awareness for youth mental heath. My original goal was to raise $10,000. To date, I have raised over $150,000 for the new Child & Youth Mental Health Unit at our local hospital – Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre. Since 2017, I, along with my family, have raised another $20,000 for multiple mental health initiatives in our province, totalling $175,000.
I visited many schools, presented my story to thousands of students, attended multiple events and raised as much awareness as I could for youth mental health. We had many sponsors who gave us so much support to make this journey happen.
I also met with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Former Premier Kathleen Wynn, Minister of Child & Youth Services — and many other dignitaries and leaders — to ask them to make youth mental health a priority. I’ve attended jack.org events and received multiple awards for volunteering. Most importantly, I was able to talk to thousands of youth across the province about the importance of mental health – and reaching out to a trusted adult if you are struggling. I have a container full of letters from youth who were struggling with suicide, their sexuality, abuse, illness and situations they shouldn’t be exposed to – and they all wanted help. I want to make sure that appropriate help is there when they need it.
Our entire family have become mental health advocates – attending galas, information sessions, events, presentations, fundraisers and such, sharing my story and the story of my mom.
We hope all of our efforts make an impact. “Even if one person can be helped – it will all be worth it.”
~ Zach Hofer