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‘Ellen’s Run’ To Benefit Mental Health in County

5K Run/Walk set for Oct. 7.

Runners participate in last year’s 5K Run/Walk in memory of Ellen Vala Schneider.

Runners participate in last year’s 5K Run/Walk in memory of Ellen Vala Schneider.

— Ellen Vala Schneider had many friends throughout Chevy Chase, Bethesda and Potomac. She was outgoing, caring and loving — a dedicated mother, attorney and the ultimate volunteer. Her life ended tragically when she drowned in the Potomac River. Her body was found near Billy Goat Trail. She was 51 when she died, but she had made an impact on everyone she encountered.

For the past 7 years, more than 500 friends and colleagues have come together to honor her life with a 5K Run/Walk that benefits the Mental Health Association of Montgomery County as well as Bethesda- Chevy Chase High School Community Scholarship Fund. Schneider served on the Board of the MHA and volunteered at BCC, the high school her children attended. According to Carole Brand, co-chair of Ellen’s Run, “One of the goals of Ellen’s Run is to promote awareness of depression and the fact that mental health issues hit home in every community in Montgomery County. We also raise scholarship money for the neediest BCC students to attend college. Another goal is to bring the Montgomery County community together in a healthy way.”

Close friend and neighbor Liz Appelbaum describes Schneider: “Ellen's passions ‘Educate, Volunteer, and Serve’ are the cornerstones of the annual Ellen's Run. Her legacy is that she inspired so many others to do the same. The past 7 years have shown me and others who knew her that it requires the energy of an entire community to fill her shoes.”

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Photo contributed

Ellen Vala Schneider

The Oct. 7, 5K race and 3K walk will begin at 9 a.m. at Candy Cane City in Rock Creek Park. Registration is on-line, and packets may be picked up the morning of the race from 8 – 8:45 a.m. at the race site or the day before at BCC High School from noon – 3 p.m. The cost, depending on when one registers is $25 - $40 for adults and $15 - $20 for students 13 – 18 and $10 for children 12 and under. Prizes will be awarded to teams of four as well as individual racers. The team with the most participants will win a prize.

“This is a fun-family event,” said Brand. We are celebrating Schneider’s legacy, but we are also doing something positive to honor our friend. It makes everyone feel good.”

Potomac resident Joy Paul, president of the Board of the Montgomery County Mental Health Association, said, “This is a county-wide event which helps to support the many beneficial programs of our association. Ellen was incredibly involved with these programs and was an advocate for educating students and adults about the signs of depression.”

“Red Flags” is a program of the MHA that serves all middle and high schools to teach students the warning signs of depression. These signs are fatigue, sleep-related irregularities, loss of interest, decreased cognitive awareness, bullying, negative feelings (sadness, hopelessness, worthlessness) eating and weight problems. When someone is depressed, they become dysfunctional. Their loved ones must take action immediately and notify a doctor, therapist or hospital. It is better to take action — and possibly be wrong than it is to know that someone is depressed and do nothing about it.

Paul and her family participate in the run every year. Paul said, “This event is not only a tribute to Ellen and all the fine work she did, but it is also a testimonial to the programs of the MHA. We help everyone in the county. We are pleased that funds are donated to our cause — and also go to help BCC students attend college.”

To register for Ellen’s Run, to donate or serve as a sponsor, go to www.ellensrunon-line.org or mail in the registration with payment to Ellen's Run c/o Carole Brand, 7011 Fulton Street, Chevy Chase, MD 20185. Registrations will also be accepted on the day of the race. To find out more about the Montgomery County Mental Health Association, go to its website: www.mhamc.org.