Written by Michael Igo
On November 20, 2019, Sean Locke looked down at 75 of his closest friends running 13.1 miles through the city of Philadelphia and laughed. Sean was never a fan of running, but he did love the spotlight, whether it was on the free throw line against Michigan State in the NCAA March Madness Tournament or on the Jukebox at Grotto’s Pizza. Like a spotlight, Sean’s legacy illuminated the 2019 Philadelphia Marathon weekend. What started as a simple idea to grab a couple friends and run the Philadelphia Half Marathon sporting “Locke 24 ” on our backs to honor him, grew into a much greater initiative. With the help of the Unlocke the Light foundation, we grew this idea into the largest team running on marathon weekend. The team sported customized Eagles’ green Locke jerseys which created a buzz around the city. I can guarantee that if you were in Philadelphia on marathon weekend, you ran into someone wearing an Unlocke the Light shirt.
After the event, Mr. Locke invited me to join the Board of Directors for the Unlocke the Light foundation. I was honored and eager to do my part to help others who suffer from mental illness and depression. The foundation has three goals; Educate high school and college students on the signs of depression, assist high school and college athletes with the transition from a life of sports to a life without sports free from depression or with the tools to manage depression, and create a safe haven where high school and college students can receive professional help and speak to peers about their struggles with depression.
Depression will always exist, The Wall Street Journal reported that over 28 million people in the United States suffer from depression. But through education and suicide prevention programs like the Unlocke the Light foundation, we can help those around us manage their depression. In the past few years, I witnessed the Unlocke the Light foundation make great strides in achieving their three core goals. Since the start of the foundation, August of 2018, Mr. Locke and Unlocke the Light representatives spoke to and educated 115,000 students about the signs of depression. In September of 2020, the foundation opened a safe haven in Newark, Delaware called “Sean’s House”. The house promotes its guests’ mental wellness by providing access to trained peer support specialists and assistance connecting with community mental health resources. In the past year, 3,107 students walked through the doors at Sean’s House to seek help and 32 of those youths who came to Sean’s House in crisis situations, with suicidal thoughts, were saved.
On November 20, 2021 the SL24 Half Marathon team is RUNNING IT BACK! We will run our second half marathon to honor Sean Locke and bring awareness to mental health and the Unlocke the Light foundation. Please support our efforts by making a donation, attending our fundraiser, purchasing a Locke Jersey, or joining the running team! We hope that by wearing our Unlocke the Light shirts, someone will ask “What team are you on?” and you can share Sean’s story, and educate them about the mission of the Unlocke the Light foundation & Sean’s House.
Below I have included all details on how to join or support the team on race day.
Donate: If you wish to donate, please do so on the Unlocke the Light website or through Venmo at @SL_24.
Fundraiser: The team will meet at Ladder-15 for a post run fundraiser. The Fundraiser will take place from 12- 2pm. It will be $20 per person for a Philadelphia themed buffet. There will be a raffle and a silent auction where 100% of the proceeds will be donated to the Unlocke the Light foundation. If you know of any companies willing to donate to our silent auction, please contact me directly.
Ladder-15 address: 1528 Sansom St, Philadelphia, PA 19102
Purchase a Locke Jersey: The SL24 Running Team will sport Phillies red Locke jerseys for the 2021 race. We want all runners & fans sporting the jerseys. You can purchase the Jersey directly on the Unlocke the Light website. The jersey will be mailed directly to the address provided at checkout.
Joining the team: To join the SL24 Running team sign up under the link below. If you are already signed up and did not sign up under the link below, that is OK! By purchasing a Locke jersey, you solidify your spot on the team. Link: https://runsignup.com/Race/PA/Philadelphia/ThePhiladelphiaMarathon?raceRefCode=uKyksxw5