ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — If you're only as good as your word, then Natasha Pierre knows what is ahead — running and lots of it. 

  • Natasha Pierre running to raise awareness for mental health
  • Pierre runs a 5K every day until the Strides for Mental Health 5K
  • If you want to help Pierre in her 5K challenge, click here

“Today, it’s not really a word, it’s more of a phrase," Pierre said, dressed in running grear as she writes the words 'Don't Stop' onto a white piece of paper. 

Pierre has been running daily since October 20.  She came up with the idea to run a 5K every day until the Strides for Mental Health Awareness 5K on November 16. And this race is a personal one for Pierre.

“I have my own 20 year journey with what is considered a severe mental illness. I know the pain, I know the struggle, I know the frustrations, I know how stigma looks and feels," said Pierre. 

That struggle can feel lonely at times, but when it came to her daily 5K, she was not alone. 

“Staff Sergeant Elijah Washington was with me on all these walks," Pierre said.

Washington, who is a retired Marine, would also help her pick a word or phrase of the day. The word/phrase would then become the inspiration for the run that day. A few words she wrote included chances, trauma, laughter, and self-advocate. 

On November 5, her word was 'grief,' — a word that would foreshadow future events.

That day Washington went into Cardiac Arrest and died shortly after. 

“I didn’t understand it, I couldn’t make sense of it," Pierre said. "But the next day, I just had a little bit of peace."

Pierre knew she would keep her word. 

“All of the lessons that he was sharing that week were all about mental tenacity, about not stopping," she said. 

Pierre kept her promise and ran a 5K everyday and is now ready for the big race on Saturday.