Jet to Jetty takes runners along Dockweiler State Beach
Photo by DeeDee Hoffman

By Christina Campodonico

After a year’s hiatus, the Jet to Jetty 5k/10k Run for Mental Health returns to Playa del Rey this Sunday, resuming its traditional course along Dockweiler State Beach. A 10-mile bike ride starts at 7:30 a.m., a 10k run and 5k walk/run at 8 a.m. and a short fun run for kids at 9 a.m., each race sprinting off from beach parking lot No. 3.

The volunteer-organized event originated in 1985, making this Jet to Jetty’s 35th anniversary year. As in years past, the race is a fundraiser benefitting the Airport Marina Counseling Service in Westchester, a nonprofit organization that has been training therapists and providing low-cost mental health services to the area since 1961.

Combining themes of physical and mental wellness, runners’ bibs this year will highlight conditions and struggles that Airport Marina Counseling Service therapists help to address.

“Every bib is going to have a situation that AMCS helps with. So we’ve got a list, like ‘Anxiety – AMCS helps’; ‘Depression – AMCS helps.’ So people will be able to look around at their bibs and see all the different things that AMCS that can help them with,” says Jet to Jetty organizing committee co-chair Margie Hanson.

In recent years, Airport Marina Counseling Service has partnered with Antioch University to establish an LGBT Affirmative Therapy Center, specializing in positive and inclusive psychotherapy programs for LGBTQIA (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual, questioning, intersex and asexual) adults.

“The LGBT Center was created out of a pretty high need within the community,” said Dr. Rachel Marks, who heads up the center. “Many people had to go to the LGBT Center, which is all the way in Hollywood or to Long Beach. … So we wanted to provide something within our community specifically for that population.”

“Even though there is still stigma, there is a huge movement to destigmatize. People are coming out: ‘I am transgender, I am non-binary.’ So the need to provide support for those people and their families is there,” said AMCS Executive Director Eden Garcia-Balis, also observing how today’s inflamed sociopolitical climate has also made the need for a positive and affirming LGBT center even more necessary. “There was this movement toward more tolerance, and now it seems like there’s less tolerance. There are a lot people in fear, so how can they continue to be true to themselves? … We believe that affirmative therapy is the best form of treatment.”

Jet to Jetty, Garcia-Balis said, is “a great way for the community to be involved.”

Onsite registration begins at 6:30 a.m. Sunday (Sept. 15) at Dockweiler State Beach Parking Lot 3, 11999 Vista del Mar, Playa del Rey. Cost is $20 to $40. Pre-register or donate at

Race alumni should wear a vintage T-shirt from Jet to Jetty’s first decade to win free admission to the 2020 race.