Skip to main content

Memorial Run to help boost mental health awareness

Registration is open for the Tyler Vanderheiden Memorial Run, an annual race aimed at raising awareness and understanding of mental health that also acts as a fundraiser for Nebraska Game and Parks state park trails.

The run is May 20, 2023, at Cody Park, 1899 US-83, North Platte. Participants may choose between a 2-mile or 5-mile distance and run in-person or virtually.

Register at or donate to the fundraiser at

This year, funds raised will help support the construction and upgrade of the Smith Falls State Park trail and walkway that leads to Nebraska’s highest waterfall. Improvements are aimed at replacing the aging wooden walkway with a more durable composite decking with steel framing. The new walkway will be Americans with Disabilities Act compliant.

“The Game and Parks trail projects that our family has supported through Tyler’s memorial runs have been an instrumental part of our healing journey,” said Shannon Vanderheiden, Tyler’s mom and executive director of West Central District Health Department. “These projects allow others to more easily access the great outdoors, which our son loved so dearly.

“I am committed to continuing this journey, with the hopes of helping others who might be struggling. … You are not alone, you matter, you are wonderful and loved.”

Just like last year, race organizers have made it a goal to see runners from every Nebraska county and every state in the nation participate in-person or virtually in the race.

“My goal is to reach at least one more person than last year,” said Sydney Keller, Ty’s sister who helps organize the race. “I want Ty’s memorial run to continue to serve as a catalyst to de-stigmatizing mental health and suicide and to be part of someone’s journey to healing.”

“Ty’s life had purpose, and through this effort, it continues to have purpose.”

The race on Cody Park’s flat course begins at 8:30 a.m. Central time, with race-day registration and packet pickup from 7:30 to 8:15 a.m. at the park pavilion.

Those choosing to do the run virtually must register by 4 p.m. Central time May 19 and may complete their race anytime between May 19-21.

The run is organized by the Platte River Fitness Series with support by West Central District Health Department. Proceeds are donated to the Nebraska Game and Parks Foundation for the creation, maintenance or upgrade of trails at the 76 state park areas.

“The trails throughout our state park system are a critical part of a visitor’s outdoor experience, their connection to nature and their physical health and mental wellbeing,” said Jeff Fields, parks division administrator for Nebraska Game and Parks. “We are honored the Vanderheiden family chose us as a way to make a difference for all Nebraskans.”

To learn more about the trail project, visit

Related Articles

Campground Electricity Among Chadron State Park Improvements

Feb 16, 2023

Campground Electricity Among Chadron State Park Improvements

Campers at Chadron State Park soon will have more power — more electrical power, that is. Later this

Read More
Venture Park Region Discovery Fair scheduled April 8

Feb 27, 2023

Venture Park Region Discovery Fair scheduled April 8

Discover summer activities and job opportunities at the Venture Parks April 8.

Read More
Registration open for Crofton’s Dam Race

Feb 28, 2023

Registration open for Crofton’s Dam Race

Registration is open for Crofton’s Dam Race 2023.

Read More