Team BELIeve Speaks Up – Runners Pay Tribute to Eli Greer

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Oliver Fisk, Staff Writer

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I met Eli Greer during Freshman year. Eli and I didn’t have any classes together, but we met at our shared friend Renn’s Halloween party. Eli was quiet at first, but I remember that after only a few hours of knowing him, he had me falling over in tears laughing at one of his jokes. Eli was like that: he would light up out of nowhere and say something that you swear would be the funniest thing ever, then revert back to his usual nonchalance. I have nothing but fond memories of him, and I’m sure my sentiments are echoed by most of my Senior classmates. It’s difficult to write about how I felt the first day at school after I learned of his death, but I remember the school feeling more hollow than it did when Trump won the election. I remember almost breaking down into tears when Mrs. Shore arrived at the place in the class roll where Eli’s name had been, and pausing before moving on to the next person.

Two years on, I still find it hard to comprehend Eli’s suicide, because he was a teammate, a brother, and a friend to me. I wouldn’t say that I knew him better than anyone else at school, but I thought Eli and I were close enough that I would be able to tell something was wrong with him. Despite all the hours Eli and I spent together running track or surviving Health class, his mental health struggles were never apparent to me. Sure, Eli would seem stressed sometimes, but I always put that down to (perhaps unfortunately) normal MLWGS proceedings.

This past weekend, Team BELIeve ran, jogged, and walked together for the second time at the SpeakUp 5K. Team BELIeve was originally founded 6 months after Eli’s death, as the Greer family wanted to create a team to run the SpeakUp 5K that could raise awareness of teenage mental health issues, but more importantly, to remember Eli.

Although it may seem like there are less painful ways to remember someone than running 3.1 miles, the SpeakUp 5K isn’t your average 5K. The race is a truly incredible and unique experience. From the moment you park, you hear joyful music and see smiling faces. When you run, there are volunteers at literally every turn to cheer you on. You encounter water guns, bubbles, and silly string. But while the race logistics are fun, what makes the day special is the people. Everyone there is united by some common experience, some loss or tragedy. The SpeakUp 5K is so different because it doesn’t matter how fast you finish the race, it just matters that you finish the race for your cause, whatever or whoever it may be.

Recent MLWGS alumna Andrea Macedo (`18), who completed 12 seasons of track, described the 5K as “the most enjoyable and meaningful” race she had ever run. She was just one of 60 members Team BELIeve, who were but a fraction of the 2,000 overall participants in the SpeakUp 5K that Saturday. “It’s all about people with different stories coming together for something, for each other. I really like that,” she said. The SpeakUp 5K truly featured different stories, as there were runners from all fifty states as well some from Mexico, South Africa, and Canada.

Team BELIeve has been incredibly successful and made such a positive impact on Eli’s family over the past two years, largely thanks to the support of the Maggie Walker community. It means so much to Eli’s mom “to see everyone [at the race] to remember Eli,” and she and I both hope sincerely that team BELIeve will return long into the future. For when life is a painful crawl to some, it helps to see others running their hearts out.

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