A chef from West Islip is running from Montauk to Manhattan Saturday, January 8 to raise money for the nonprofit Long Island Crisis Center, which runs a 24/7 suicide prevention hotline.
Christopher LaMagna, the 29-year-old executive chef at Barrique Kitchen and Wine Bar in Babylon, said the fundraiser will assist an organization that tackles an issue close to his heart while he does an activity that helps him cope. The chef says he’s struggled with depression, suicidal thoughts and anxiety, and running has been a “magical” panacea for that struggle. “Being by myself and learning to love and embrace loneliness allows me to reconsider how beautiful my life really is,” LaMagna explains in his GoFundMe campaign, which has already surpassed its $4,500 goal before he embarks on his 130-mile run.
“This run is my way of bringing awareness to something that affects so many of us, yet is so often not talked about,” he continues.
One in five Americans will experience a mental illness in a given year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Besides providing “free, high quality, confidential and non-judgmental” volunteer crisis hotline counselors, the Bellmore-based LICC also offers programs and services to support and empower Long Islanders at critical times in their lives. It received more than 10,000 calls last year.
“We are so proud of his incredible efforts,” an LICC spokesperson said.
LaMagna will start his run at 6 a.m. on January 8 at Montauk Point State Park and finish at Strawberry Fields Monument in Central Park.
The Long Island Crisis Center’s 24/7 hotline can be reached at 516-679-1111. Or visit their website at longislandcrisiscenter.org.