You won’t find Devon Lévesque running the New York City marathon this year, instead, you’ll need to look a little lower to find him crawling it. Yes, you read that correctly. The fitness and wellness expert plans to crawl on his hands and feet for the marathon’s entire 26.2 miles.
Lévesque, 28, plans to start on Friday and finish his crawl on Saturday and he’s doing it for an excellent cause. He wants to raise awareness and honor his late father, who died of suicide when he was just a teen.
Devon Lévesque wants to bring awareness to mental health and suicide prevention by crawling the marathon.
“I was a 16-year-old kid and he was my best friend,” he explained to People. “It was the hardest thing I’ve ever gone through in my entire life. It was hard to watch because he was a happy-go-lucky person. I haven’t been able to cope with it until about 12 months ago and that is what is driving me to bring awareness to mental health and suicide prevention.”
The marathon will be Lévesque’s first and he hopes to raise $200,000 through his “bear crawl” marathon, which will help fund 66 veterans through FitOps, a foundation that supports veterans using their fitness and leadership skills to become personal trainers. The group was founded by a veteran, Matt Hesse, in 2016.
“One-hundred percent of the funds raised will go towards the FitOps Foundation,” Lévesque said. “They’re dedicated to supporting and empowering veterans for re-acclimation [and] to raising awareness for mental health and suicide prevention.”
“I wanted to dedicate it to a cause that hits home for me,” he elaborated.
According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, 6,139 American veterans died of suicide in 2017. The rate has exceeded 6,000 every year since 2008 which is a staggering statistic.
As reported by People, the “bear crawl” has already raised $100,000 of its $200,000 goal. That amount will go toward enrolling 33 veterans in the FitOps program. If you’d like to donate to the cause, you can do so here.
For the past year, Lévesque, a resident of New Jersey, has undergone intense training and many visits to the doctor. He hopes his bear crawling training will help him succeed.
“I have been putting my body in an uncomfortable state for a long period of time so it adjusts to where I eventually become comfortable,” he said of his preparation for the marathon. “Just like people running a marathon for the first time, you have to put your body through uncomfortable states to familiarize it. I have had to do the same with bear crawling.”
Although his main goal is to support veterans and raise awareness around suicide prevention, Lévesque also wants to motivate others to go after their goals.
“I want to show people the impossible is possible and complete something that has never been done before,” he explained. “Things that seem impossible can become possible if you put your mind to it.”
What an amazing cause and inspiring person! If you’d like to follow along his journey or simply watch him bear crawl, you can visit Lévesque’s Instagram page where he’s been documenting his adventure. While the story of his father is a sad one, we’re happy to see that he’s turned that pain into something productive and is using his experience to motivate others to take action.
Helping those who served our country and fought so bravely is a very wise and kind endeavor. We are so excited to see Lévesque crawl for a cause and his partnership to take off. Empowering vets to put their skills to work is a brilliant idea and we know exactly the type of personal trainer we need now!