by Rachel Finkbeiner
Special to the Star News
Last November Elk River lost a very spirited and talented soccer player, Kelsey Daulton, 19. But this August, her family wants her memory and mission to live on by helping the community with a Forever Young Fun Run 5K run/walk.
The purpose of the run is to bring to light an issue most don’t talk about and one Daulton’s family is all too familiar with: mental illness. Daulton had struggled with mental illness for most of her life, and it unfortunately played a role in her accidental death.
Inspiration for the race came from a journal entry Daulton had written saying, “I want to help people who are feeling the same thing I feel because I understand this feeling.”
All proceeds from the Forever Young Fun Run for Kelsey will be donated to the Central Minnesota Mental Health Center located on Eighth Street in Elk River. More specifically, the money will be used for individual therapy sessions for teens and a group session.
“Mental illness is an issue that needs to be talked about more,” said Kathy Daulton, Kelsey Daulton’s mother. She said most teens with mental illnesses hide it because they don’t understand what’s happening and are embarrassed.
A year before her death, Kelsey Daulton was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder.
Those with this illness experience dramatic mood changes and alienation, are impulsive, display anger and have an unstable self image. According to a medical journal, they sometimes use substances as a coping mechanism and are very difficult to treat. The result is a patient who is dual-diagnosis, meaning they have both a chemical health and mental health diagnosis that a professional has to treat.
In the case of Kelsey Daulton, her family noticed something was wrong and got her treatment. But finding the right treatment to treat both sides (chemical and mental) wasn’t an easy battle.
For the family, this is why an awareness of mental health issues is so important; knowing the symptoms can lead to an earlier diagnosis, which can lead to a more successful treatment.
But mental illness didn’t characterize Kelsey Daulton as a person. Her friends knew her as someone who always knew the right thing to say. She had aspirations of being a traveling journalist and possibly joining the peace corps.
“Kelsey lived a spirited 19 years and accomplished many things off and on the soccer field. She had an amazing outlook on life that was incomparable,” her cousin Emily Juaire said.
Her sisters Brittney and Logan, who spoke at Kelsey Daulton’s funeral, hope the Forever Young race, in part, is a way to bring together all of her friends and the people who knew her and were touched by her to celebrate the life she lived.
Participants who register for the 5K by Aug. 9 will be guaranteed a T-shirt with a unique cartoon design in honor of one of Kelsey’s interests.
“So Kelsey loved rats,” Brittney said.
Ever since Kelsey Daulton was in fourth grade and got to take care of the class pet rat for the weekend, rats had been present in the Daulton family. Each pet rat she had over the years came with a creative name, Marshmallow, Question Mark, Fuzzalina and Professor Panda, her latest.
At one point Kelsey had described her rats as “loving creatures, but so misunderstood.” Kathy Daulton, having remembered this, knew this was the perfect theme for their walk, as it summarized how her daughter felt, and it reflects how most with mental illnesses feel.
The Forever Young Fun Run begins behind Meadowvale Elementary and ends at Woodland Trails. The course will include a pit stop. All participants are encouraged to bring food items for Community Aid Elk River, an organization very important to the Daulton family. Instead of flowers at Kelsey’s funeral, the family asked for food donations.
Registration and details for the race can be found at http://bit.ly/13pWdyV. Online registration is $20 until Aug. 16. After that, the registration fee is $25. The race is Aug. 18, with registration beginning at 11:30 a.m. The run starts at 1 p.m. and the walk begins at 1:15 p.m.
For those who can’t be present for the race, the Daulton family hopes people will still consider donating to their mission of helping children, teens and young adults who struggle with a mental illness. (Donations can given through the registration website.) They also hope to make the race an annual event.
“There are hundreds of walks for cancer; why can’t there be walks for mental illnesses?” Brittney said.
For the Daultons, the race is a way to carry out Kelsey’s mission — to help others, make everyone feel good and experience life to the fullest.