Costume for conversation

Pakenham''s Jake Abel in his Lion onesie. Pictures: GARY SISSONS 200702_09

By Mitchell Clarke

A man dressed in a lion onesie has vowed to run 200km around Pakenham in a bid to get people talking about men’s mental health and suicide prevention.

Rather than growing a moustache, Jake Abel decided to put a twist on the usual fundraising efforts associated with Movember, claiming the unique costume would hopefully see more people address the cause.

“I like to try and do things to promote mental health awareness,” he said.

“After seeing what Shane Crawford has done with his charitable efforts, it’s obviously inspiring and I’d love to go down the same path.”

Taking to the paths of Pakenham for the entire month of November, the 29-year-old electrician is currently on track to achieve his end goal by running about seven kilometres a day.

“I pretty much run up and down the (Princes) highway past McDonald’s and around that area,” he said.

“So I’m getting noticed a bit, there’s plenty of toots and heckles.”

But it’s all appreciated, with Mr Abel hopeful the costume triggers a conversation and gets people talking about the cause.

Globally, one man dies from suicide, every minute of every day, according to Movember.

The charity, which began in 2003, aims to “change the face of men’s health” by bringing attention to prostate cancer, testicular cancer, mental health and suicide prevention.

While Mr Abel doesn’t have a personal connection to the cause, he said ever since he became a father, he’s become spurred on to do something.

“I had a daughter last year, and ever since hearing the stories of other people and how they’ve lost loved ones, it’s really inspired me to get involved,” he explained.

“It just pains me to think that my daughter could lose me if my mental health was to ever go downhill.”

As to why he chose the lion costume, it’s because the animal is often referred to as a “symbol of bravery”.

“It’s not weak to speak, it’s a brave and courageous thing to actually ask for help,” he said.

“I chose the lion because a lion is brave and for me, it’s all about trying to get the affected person to ask for help.”

The initial goal was to raise $500 for the cause but Jake has already surpassed that, reaching over $800 before the halfway point of the month.

“It’s not even about the money, I mean the money is great but it’s more about raising awareness, the more people talking about it, the better,” he said.

To donate to Jake’s Movember fundraiser, visit https://mobro.co/jakeabel?mc=1.

If you or someone you know needs help, contact Lifeline on 13 11 14. 

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