Micah Aberson is joining the team of 12 runners for his first year of The 437 Project. Growing up as a golfer, Micah always noticed the cross-country runners invading the golf course and wondered how or why someone thought that running long distances seemed like a good idea. While studying in Stellenbosch, South Africa in his early college years, Micah fell in love with running as a unique way to explore and think. People will often say they need to “sleep on it”, but Micah has come to find the value in “running on it”. Whether to plan for an upcoming meeting or presentation, unpack a complex business problem, or daydream about a vacation or a great memory, “running on it” has become a prerequisite for most decisions of any significance.
Over the years, Micah has also found joy in running with others and using the experience as a means of deep personal connection. Specifically, Micah has completed the Twin Cities and New York City Marathons, both with at least one of his two brothers at his side, as well as dozens of half marathons, always running with friends and family.
By day, Micah has enjoyed contributing to the business community in the region as a partner at Lawrence & Schiller, an executive at Sanford Health, and now as the President of Cambria.
Cheering for him along the 437 mile route you will find Micah’s wife, Jaclyn, and their two young daughters, Sutton and Andie, while Micah will no doubt be daydreaming of the day his daughters join him for long weekend runs.
Carter Gronseth is a Registered Nurse at Avera McKennan Emergency Department. A day in the Emergency Department comes with unforeseen challenges and helping those in their most vulnerable state. The ability to show compassion and empathy to those on some of their worst days is what Carter loves most about her job. In this role, she has frequently found herself advocating for her patients’ mental health needs and has often discovered the disconnect that exists between patient needs and the education and resources that are available to them.
Carter is passionate about serving others and this is evident in the ways she spends her free time. She serves on multiple hospital committees that focus on improving patient satisfaction, while also supporting the workplace environment. Education and mentoring have long been important to Carter, therefore she also serves as a Clinical Instructor for the Augustana Nursing Program.
Carter’s excitement for running was sparked in high school and has continued to evolve over the years. During college, she started working at 605 Running Company. The running community of Sioux Falls keeps Carter moving and engaged with other members. Carter runs not only for her physical health, but also as a stress reliever and to keep herself in check on hard days. During her free time, Carter can be found running or biking along the bike trails and spending time with those she loves most.
“The 437 Project is the perfect way to give back to my community and the many people I have cared for in my work through one of my greatest passions, running. I look forward to raising awareness and creating more resources for all people with mental health concerns in South Dakota”.
When she started college in 2007, Erica Knips simultaneously started her journey as a runner. In those days, she found running to be a great outlet, as well as a much-needed break from studying. Her first marathon was the Brookings Marathon, where she’ll never forget that feeling of accomplishment in crossing the finish line for the very first time. She has since run 25 full marathons, but Brookings still holds the key to her running heart. Erica says the time spent training with others and building relationships has been one of her favorite parts of distance running.
“I felt honored to be asked to be part of this team as I feel like the mission of The 437 Project hits home to most people. Almost everyone knows someone who has struggled with a mental illness. I am so happy to be able to help in this journey of connecting those in need with much-needed mental health resources.”
By day, Erica works at Orthopedic Institute for Dr. Corey Rothrock and Dr. Timothy Walker. She meets with patients at their initial surgical appointments, and assists as they navigate the often overwhelming process of arranging their surgeries, tests, therapy, and more appointments. Seeing patients struggle with daily activities and then watching them progress both mentally and physically over the course of time has been the most rewarding part of her job.
When she’s not running or working, Erica can likely be found baking something sweet or stocking up on blueberries, one of her secret tools of running recovery.
Lisa Larson is the office manager at Dobesh Chiropractic in Mitchell, SD. She manages the daily operations of the clinic and strives to make a positive impact on patients’ mental and emotional wellbeing to supplement the physical support they receive from their visits to the practice.
Lisa has enjoyed running her entire life. She has participated in several 5Ks, 10Ks, and half marathons. She has completed four full marathons and qualified for and completed the 2019 Boston Marathon.
Thirteen years ago, Lisa began the marathon of her life, racing against the effects of years of alcoholism. In the early years of her recovery, she discovered that her passion for running became her “meditation on the run.” As she runs, she finds she is better able to gather her thoughts, think through creative ideas, and connect to her higher power through prayer. In her sobriety, Lisa realized that the mental strength she gained as a result of her training matched the physical benefits.
As she has grown in her recovery, Lisa has been an advocate for others who face the same disease. She knows first-hand that it does not discriminate, and that its victims often are experts at covering up their vices. Statistics show that addiction and suicide often go hand-in-hand, and as a result, Lisa has been an advocate for mental health awareness and openly shares her journey and zest for life with others.
Lisa has taken delight in organizing numerous successful 5k run/walks to benefit individuals and organizations in her community, both therapeutically and monetarily. On July 4, 2022 she spearheaded the God Bless the American Farmer 5k to honor her brother, who lost his life in an accident while fulfilling his life mission of preserving the American way of life through farming. The event raised funds for the scholarship fund she created in his memory for educating future farmers at Mitchell Technical College and, just as importantly, it brought friends and family together to celebrate the legacy he left behind.
Lisa says that life, like running, is a journey filled with transitions and challenges that reveal a person’s true strength. She lives by the words of U.S. marathon legend Amby Burfoot: “As runners, we all go through many transitions – transitions that closely mimic the larger changes we experience in a lifetime. First, we try to run faster. Then we try to run harder. Then we learn to accept ourselves and our limitations, and at last, we can appreciate the true joy and meaning of running.”
Born and raised in Kenya, Benson migrated to the United States in 2009 to pursue his undergraduate and graduate studies at Butler College and the University of South Dakota. He was also a track and cross country team member representing both colleges. Currently, Benson works as a therapist at Family Service, Inc. in Sioux Falls, SD. He is a Level I & II Certified Running Coach and Certified Coaching Instructor for the Road Runners Club of Ameri- ca (RRCA). He is also the Director of Private Coaching at 605 Running Company in Sioux Falls, SD.
Benson is a competitive distance runner specializing in 5k and Marathon distances, representing Skechers Performance, Coros Wear- ables, Maurten Official, UP2U, and 605 Running Company. He was named the 2020 Boston Marathon Honorary Member and placed 17th overall at the 2020 Boston Marathon.
“As a professional in this field, I know that physical activity can play an essential role in mental well-being and relieve symptoms of mental health conditions like depression and anxiety. While the physical health benefits of exercise are frequently discussed, the link between exercise and mental health is often overlooked. Studies suggest that physical exercise may help ward off mental health symptoms before they start. The 437 Project is a way of bringing awareness to Mental Health.”
Kelly is an occupational therapist and works as an Account Risk Manager for Risk Administration Services (RAS), the largest provider of workers' compensation insurance in the state of South Dakota. She also serves as Clinical Faculty for the Occupational Therapy Doctoral Program at the University of South Dakota. Occupational therapy has always recognized the importance of the connection between mental and physical wellness and The 437 Project is a tremendous opportunity to share that message with even more people across the state.
Kelly has run 10 marathons, several ultramarathons, and numerous relay-style races with her all-female team, Great Faces, Great Paces. In addition to running the inaugural 437 Project in 2022, her proudest running accomplishments include her team's 3rd place finish at the storied Hood to Coast Relay and qualifying for the Boston Marathon. Of all these running endeavors, however, her favorites are the finish lines she crosses with her family or friends; especially if she can manage to finish just slightly ahead of her husband or 3 children!
"When The 437 Project team crossed our first finish line in 2022, we all got the sense that our work had really just begun. As someone whose running has become increasingly about my own mental rather than physical health, I couldn’t be more proud to be running The 437 Project again in 2023. Every day it’s a privilege to be able to run. And it’s still alright.”
After witnessing the success of The 437 Project in its augural year, Ross McDaniel knew he wanted to be a part of the 2023 event. In his practice at ChiroSport, Dr. Ross sees firsthand the opportunity to help people every day. “The truth is, they help us just as much as we help them.”
Ross started running in high school, mostly out of fear of his football coach. The football career didn’t pan out for him, but the running stuck. For his 40th birthday, Ross tackled the Grand Canyon R2R2R:a 47-mile trek across the Grand Canyon and back, boasting over 10,000 feet of elevation gain.
When he’s not running or fixing his patients via chiropractic, Ross is busy with his sweet and sassy daughters: Kaylor (15), Morgan (11), and Mya (9), as well as his girlfriend Brianna and her kids: Cali (14) and James (10).
In addition to The 437 Project, Ross is looking forward to running Grandma’s Marathon this year, where he hopes to qualify for the Boston Marathon.
John Meyer is on a mission to inspire others to be the best version of themselves. John has spent 15 years learning leadership on the job by trying, making mistakes, and pushing himself and his teams to be Better Every Day.
John is the Executive Director of Leadership South Dakota, and he coaches founders on growing their businesses through his company January. In 2011, John co-founded Lemonly, a design firm that helps the world's best brands like Netflix, Marriott, Major League Baseball, and Google tell their stories. As Lemonly's CEO, John built a strong company culture, gaining regional and national attention and becoming one of the best places to work in the Midwest. John is married to Paige Pearson Meyer, and loves being a girl dad to Margot and Liv.
John’s running journey started as a hurdler on the Brookings Bobcats track team. His 7th place finish in the state 110m hurdles was mediocre, but high school track established a love for running and competition. Today, John seeks out a ‘misogi’ every year. A misogi is one large challenge put on the calendar that transforms the entire year. John has hiked the equivalent of Mt. Everest with the 29029 challenge, ran the Portland Marathon, finished 75 Hard, and this year his misogi is to run The 437 Project.
Alex Pool started as the Integration Manager at The Helpline Center one month before the COVID pandemic began. As The Helpline Center responded to the pandemic, Alex became an integral piece in building innovative technology solutions to meet increased social service and mental health needs. Today, Alex continues to expand the behind the scenes technology infrastructure that powers the 24/7 services of The Helpline Center and its outside agency collaborations. Specifically, Alex has been involved in maintaining and customizing technology platforms for several mental health programs, including 988 and suicide prevention programming. He enjoys discovering new ways to integrate technology building systems to more efficiently serve individuals in need.
Alex’s running journey started during his five-year service with the United States Marine Corps. Since exiting the military, he continues to run to stay active, meet new people, and clear his mind of the day’s events. He has competed in numerous races, including a marathon and an ultra-marathon. His proudest running moment, however, was having the honor of participation in The 437 Project in its inaugural year in 2022. He is thrilled to have the opportunity again this year.
Alex believes in the strong impact mental health services can have on all members of the community and the impact that running can have on an individual’s overall mental health.
“I am honored and thrilled to be selected again to be part of The 437 Project, representing The Helpline Center and highlighting the critical work that my amazing co-workers do 24/7 in supporting and connecting individuals across South Dakota.”
Roni Radigan is an inpatient psychiatrist at Avera Behavioral Health, a faculty member with the University of South Dakota, and Assistant Program Director for the Psychiatry Residency. Her days are spent devoted to patients, directly addressing their mental health needs, along with teaching both residents and medical students. Her mornings are spent putting in miles or going to the gym, dedicated to physical and mental health. Beyond work, Roni's most important role is being mom to three beautiful young girls. As a family, their beloved past time is spending summers at the lake. It is evident her top priorities in life are family, running, and her career in mental health.
Growing up, sports – gymnastics and soccer, in particular – were a significant part of Roni's life. She participated in track, but running was never the focus. It wasn't until after a year of college soccer and a decision to concentrate on studies that left her with more time to actually pursue running as a hobby. It only took one run and she was hooked! Since then, not even three pregnancies have put a stop to Roni’s running. For Roni, running has evolved through the years from competitive marathons to stress management in medical school and now primarily for its pure enjoyment and health benefits. Running has taught her many lessons, but one of the most valuable is that the human body is mentally stronger than it will ever be physically. “It plays a vital role in my life, allowing time to reflect, re-energize, and reconnect with my values. Running allows me to be a better version of myself and thus a better physician, mom, and wife.”
After a colleague mentioned The 437 Project, Roni was astonished to discover an event that coincided so closely with her own personal commitments. “With my passion for running and a devoted career to mental health, involvement in The 437 Project seems fitting. I consider it to be both a privilege and an honor to run alongside a motivated group for such an important cause.”
Rochelle Sweetman joins The 437 Project with over 20 years of recreational running under her belt. Growing up, Rochelle would ride her bike as her mother regularly ran a 3 mile route near their home. Inspired by her mom, Rochelle began running in college and continued into law school, where she became friends with classmates who were training for a marathon. Always up for a challenge, Rochelle registered for her first official race—the 2003 Twin Cities Marathon.
Since then, Rochelle has completed numerous races, including 9 marathons and several 200-mile relays with her best running friends. Rochelle credits running with helping her maintain her mental and physical health while juggling the demands of work and family. When not running, Rochelle can be found working as a risk management consultant at Marsh and McLennan Agency and enjoying the company of her husband, two kids, and two dogs. Rochelle’s favorite place to run is any South Dakota gravel road, surrounded by the sights, sounds, and smells of her childhood growing up in Miller, SD.
Paul TenHaken currently serves as the 32nd Mayor of Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Since taking office in 2018 and being re-elected in 2022, he has led with a focus on public entrepreneurship, innovation, community collaboration, and fiscal responsibility.
Before taking office, Paul established a reputation as a leader in the marketing technology sector. He founded and successfully exited Click Rain, a digital agency in Sioux Falls that is consistently recognized as a leader for innovative product offerings and a unique workplace culture.
Paul is passionate about both physical and mental wellness and the often overlooked connection between the two. An avid obstacle course racer and triathlete, Paul uses his platform as mayor of the largest city in South Dakota to regularly encourage the 200,000+ residents of Sioux Falls to get active and be mindful of their health. During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic and realizing the mental health toll the pandemic was taking on residents, Paul started the "100 Miles in 100 Days" challenge in Sioux Falls to get people outside and moving, leading to thousands of miles logged by people across the state. During his time in office, Paul has also been a champion for mental health awareness programs and services, most recently helping to open The Link - a facility that connects those experiencing addiction and mental health challenges to the appropriate community resources.
"The 437 Project is our way of shining a light on the inseparable connection between physical and mental health and the importance of taking care of the bodies and minds we have been given," said Paul.
While he has won numerous business, government, and entrepreneurial awards over the years, Paul's proudest accomplishment is his family-wife, Jill, and their three children.