SCHNECKSVILLE, Pa. - 23-year-old Nate Kern is training for a 2.5-mile swim, 114-mile bike ride, and a marathon-all on the same day.
It's "something I always felt I could achieve and that was to do something so astronomical and huge in the realm of fitness to benefit other people," he said.
The Schnecksville man will compete in an Ironman triathlon in Lake Placid, New York, now rescheduled for July 2021, due to COVID-19. However his Iron Mind Fund is fueling his physical motivation.
"It has become critically apparent our mental health structure is not built for young people in this country to cope and deal with stress properly," Kern said.
2 years ago, his best friend, Kyle Burkey, committed suicide. Since then, Nate has been committed to honoring that friendship.
Through his training and online outreach, he's raised nearly $20,000 so far for suicide prevention and awareness.
"Suicide is preventable. We don't have to lose lives," said Jim Presto, co-chair of eastern Pennsylvania's chapter of American Foundation of Suicide Prevention.
In 2014 his son, Josh, took his life at 19 years old.
Presto says warning signs are changes in how they talk and behave, and their mood. A 2-week stretch of radical changes, demands asking the question "are you going to harm yourself?"
"You may not get a straight answer at that point, but what you've done is taken down a barrier if they've considered it at all and didn't tell you," Kern said.
Nate is letting his body talk for him and Kyle. An effort to say an Ironman is nothing without a healthy mind.
"I know there is a higher purpose to what I'm doing and that is what gets me through a lot of days," he said.