Running a 5K is an accomplishment on its own, but one doctor is taking that challenge to another level. Dr. Adel Korkor, a nephrologist from Wisconsin, is running 50 5Ks in all 50 states in 50 days. He began the Five Fifty Fifty Run/Walk Series to shed light on mental health issues across the nation, one step at a time.

“It’s clear that the mental-health need in America is substantially rising, but the resources available to assist are limited,” said Dr. Korkor. “This is a disaster that we need to address.”

“I think it’s insane, I couldn’t do it,” said Dr. Stephanie Schwarz, who used to work with Dr. Korkor at a hospital in Wisconsin, but now works at Cabell Huntington Hospital. “I’m pretty impressed that he’s doing it. It’s incredible.” 

On Monday, Dr. Korkor’s path continued through Huntington, with his 45th race at Ritter Park.

“It’s been an incredible journey for me,” said Dr. Korkor. “It allowed me to learn about what’s happening in every state in regard to mental health.”

The organizers picked Huntington for a specific reason: the city’s struggle with drug addiction, which is directly related to mental health issues.

“We chose Huntington for a good reason,” said Dr. Korkor. “It’s because of the very high rate of death associated with opiate overdose in this state and especially in this community. We need to get back to the mental health situations that are sitting behind all these addiction issues.”

“A lot of the people with the drug epidemic also have mental health issues and right now, it’s a big deal trying to get these people support,” said Dr. Schwarz.

Each run is about more than just awareness though. It’s a tool. Facing mental health issues himself, Dr. Korkor realized the power that physical activity and fitness can have.

“I personally suffer from mental health issues,” said Dr. Korkor. “I had panic disorder and running has really helped me a great deal to cope with it.”

Just like each race, facing mental health issues can be an exhausting, but Dr. Korkor believes crossing the finish line takes a group effort.

“Those who have mental health issues are not alone,” said Dr. Korkor.