Together we are strong

Boys Cross Country raises awareness for Mental Health and Suicide Prevention


Matthew Isakson

Coach John Benham has been the SHS Boys Cross Country coach for six years while simultaneously working at Mason as an Art teacher. Over the course of those six years he has raised awareness for Breast Cancer, Alzheimer’s, ALS, Brain Cancer, Autism, and finally Mental Health and Suicide Prevention. “It’s been a really great four years, getting to do something so impactful with such a large group of people,” Isakson said.

  The 62 members of the boys Cross Country team, aka The BROTHERHOOD, and their female counterparts along with other students, family members, and friends participated in the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s “Out of Darkness” walk in Cincinnati on Sun. Oct. 15.

  “The BROTHERHOOD knows that this is a big issue and they want to make sure everyone knows that they can always find someone to talk to when needed,” said head coach John Benham.

  This was the tenth out of darkness walk held in Cincinnati and drew a record crowd of 2,150 people and was able to raise $150,000 which will be donated to different suicide prevention programs.

  “ I was surprised to see how big of an event it was. I thought the XC boys would make up a majority of the walkers but that was completely wrong. I was most surprised by Channel 5, Sheree Paolello, who was there supporting the event too,” said Matthew Isakson, one of the Boys Cross Country captains.

  The event also coincided with the boys season since the boys, who chose an annual cause to support and raise money and awareness for,  have been running for mental health awareness and suicide prevention.

  The team was joined by the community, many of whom were wearing the special t-shirts and socks that were designed as warmups for the boys’ team. The shirts are specifically designed with the suicide prevention logo.

Despite the walk already occurring the team still encourages people to buys the t-shirt in an effort to combat the suicide epidemic which has gripped Cincinnati.

  “The BROTHERHOOD is asking everyone to go to Queen City Spirit and purchase our team shirt to show support – part of the proceeds will go directly to the Suicide Prevention Cause,” Benham said.

  The boys also ask that even if you can not attend the walk that you help the cause by donating to the cause.

An annual issue

  Benham has been the head coach for the SHS boys Cross Country team for six years and has promoted community activism through the support of different causes the entire time.


John Benham

  Over the years the team has come together to raise money for causes such as Breast Cancer, ALS, and Autism.

  Two years ago the team worked with Gray Matters in connection to math teacher Mr. Randall Lothrop’s daughter Liz, who was a Mason student. T-shirts that year were sold at both Mason and SHS.

  The team also participated in the ALS Bucket Challenge and put a video on youtube challenging other Cross country teams to do the same.

  Prior to working at SHS Benham ran for Miami and then continued his passion for the sport by coaching at the Mason Middle school for ten years.

  Benham also works with Mason to raise awareness about specific issues and this year he has helped to create programs to help people get more comfortable discussing the topic of mental health at school.

  At SHS Benham hopes to create similar programs and has even talked with SHS Administration and his team captains about using some of the money they raise to bring a guest speaker to SHS.  The team will continue to work towards raising awareness for suicide prevention by wearing their uniforms and warmup shirts.

  This year is also the first year that the Varsity team has also had cause specific tops for their uniforms for each race.

  “The purpose [of the uniforms] is to have an image for the cause,” Benham said.

Coach Benham also adorns a special “uniform” to support the team and the cause and has done so every year since his first season at SHS.

Will to live

  Every year coach Benham purchases a new bow tie from the Bow Tie Cause, a local foundation started by a Cincinnati family after their son took his own life.

  Benham has been purchasing bow ties from this foundation for years, as the money used to purchase the bow tie is donated to the foundation.

  One the website for Bow Tie cause, the foundation permits people to buy a multitude of different bow ties, each designed for a specific cause.

  For the 2017 season, Benham will be wearing the bow tie title “Will to Live”.