Justin Knight learnt a valuable lesson early on in life – the hardest part of any task is starting; once you clear that hurdle, the journey gets easier.
It's an approach the driven 20-year-old from Sydney's inner west uses when he’s waiting for the starting gun and getting ready to race in the Sydney Morning Herald Half Marathon as part of #TeamBlackDog, which raises valued funds for the Black Dog Institute.
The event is Australia’s largest and most prestigious half marathon, and is just one way Australians can get involved in Exercise Your Mood, the Black Dog Institute’s annual campaign to raise awareness about the positive link between keeping active and lifting your mood.
A significant motivator for Justin to don the marathon bib was seeing his father go through depression. As is often the case with depression, there were particularly tough moments that made Justin and his family doubt whether his prognosis would improve, but he recovered, partly thanks to a strong support network. Justin recognised that without that level of support, his dad’s illness might have hit him even harder. "To this day our family wish we’d had an organisation like Black Dog to help my father through tough times."
After seeing his father’s experience with depression, and learning that suicide is the leading cause of death for young Australians ahead of motor accidents and cancer, Justin was inspired to start supporting the Black Dog Institute. Because two of the organisation’s key focus areas are depression and youth suicide prevention, supporting them was a natural choice for Justin. "I hope that with every dollar raised, we can change the lives of Australians so that they are prolonged and enriched."
Finding that people are responsive and generous when they realise you're running for a great cause has spurred Justin on and helped him keep up the pace, although he doesn't deny it can be a bit challenging to keep up with training on top of juggling the other things in his life. "But with everything in life you've just got to find strategies to manage these obstacles." To avoid losing steam, he reminds himself why he's running in the first place – to help those close to him, and others, who are experiencing depression.
His advice for someone thinking about fundraising for Black Dog is to just start. “Once you start and get momentum there is no looking back." He also says sharing your story and your progress is a great incentive to get others to support you. And of course, the added endorphin-burst that comes with remembering you’re doing something constructive and inspiring is pretty powerful too. “Every day I feel amazing because I believe what I’m doing is helping someone close to me who is affected by depression.”