A small Lowell nonprofit that helps veterans and public safety workers address mental health issues is one of several Massachusetts charities taking part in the Social Distance Dash 2.0 over the July Fourth weekend.
Hidden Battles, which provides help to vets or first responders coping with depression, post traumatic stress and other emotional strife, is one of more than a dozen charities participating in the virtual road race July 2 to 5 organized by FMP Productions of Woburn.
Other nonprofits taking part include Christopher’s Haven, a Boston organization that helps the families of pediatric cancer patients; Melmark New England, which operates a school in Andover autistic children; the Revere Beach Partnership, which aims to preserve America’s oldest public beach, according to the website.
There are no distance requirements, and runners can participate from wherever they feel comfortable as long as they track they amount of walking or running they have done on a workout app and send the information to FMP, according to the website.
The first Social Distance Dash held earlier during the state’s Covid-19 crisis drew 1,200 runners raised over $30,000, according to FMP.
More than a dozen supporters have signed up to help Hidden Battles, founder Scott Hyder said.
“What I’m looking most forward to is the fact that it’s a reason for people to get out and exercise and kind of spread their wings and their legs to beat the whole COVID cabin fever,” Hyder said in an interview.
Hyder said he started the organization three years ago in memory of his brother, Nick, a corrections officer who had PTSD and died by suicide in 2012.
The organization, which is affiliated with the Greater Lowell Community Foundation, offers veterans and first responders a chance to connect through group activities, such as cooking classes and hikes, as well as peer support and other services.
“What our mission really is to do is to create a community of like minded people who are comfortable with their own people,” said Hyder, an Army veteran and a retired Westford police officer. “I mean, as veterans and first responders, we speak our own language, we all get along in the same comfort zone, [and] we have a dark humor.”
Funds raised from the Social Distance Dash 2.0 will be used to help front-line medical workers cope with the stress of the pandemic,, he said.
“I mean, there’s going to be a lot of post traumatic stress coming out of this for the nurses and the medical staff” Hyder said. “So, we’re actually going to be working on some programs for them.”
Adam Sennott can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.