Winnipeggers work out with pumpkins to raise money for mental health

Who needs to pump iron when you can use a pumpkin?

On the day before Halloween, Winnipeggers clad in costumes and workout gear gathered to exercise in support of mental health.

Johnny Fukumoto, co-owner of Fukumoto Fitness, hosted the 12th annual Bring-A-Buddy Pumpkin Charity Workout to raise money for the Anxiety Disorders Association of Manitoba on Saturday.

“We just want people to be able to talk about their struggles. A lot of people feel alone and feel embarrassed. And we want to also make sure people know that when they exercise consistently, they’re likely to feel a little bit better,” Fukumoto said.

“The focus is on mental health and helping people feel connected with each other in the community.”

A person dressed up as a Teletubby works out using a pumpkin at Fukumoto Fitness on Saturday. (Walther Bernal/CBC)

All of the money raised on Saturday went to the Anxiety Disorders Association of Manitoba, which helps people struggling with phobias, post-traumatic stress disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, and panic and anxiety disorders.

The association provides self-help, cognitive behavioural therapy, support groups and resources for children, adolescents, adults, families, employers and health-care professionals.

Fukumoto wants people who struggle with these disorders to know they aren’t alone.

“I just encourage people, if you do struggle with anxiety or depression or anything, to know that there are people who will not judge you and can support you in all the free resources that are available in Winnipeg and Manitoba,” he said.

“We encourage you to reach out and see how you can get some help.”

If you’re experiencing suicidal thoughts or having a mental health crisis, there is help out there. Contact the Manitoba Suicide Prevention and Support Line toll-free at 1-877-435-7170 (1-877-HELP170) or the Kids Help Phone at 1-800-668-6868.

You can also text CONNECT to 686868 and get immediate support from a crisis responder through the Crisis Text Line, powered by Kids Help Phone.

Or contact Canada Suicide Prevention Service: 1-833-456-4566 (phone) | 45645 (text, 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. CT only) |