Linda Sanders, founder and CEO of Hope So Bright
Produced by Linda Sanders and directed by award-winning Italian cinematographer and director, Alessandro Beltrame, “Desert Around Me” is a documentary film that incorporates footage from the 2016 Marathon des Sables in Morocco and deals with the ADHD pandemic. Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a chronic condition that affects millions of children and often continues into adulthood. ADHD includes a combination of persistent problems, such as difficulty sustaining attention, hyperactivity and impulsive behavior.
Alessandro Beltrame, director of ‘Desert Around Me’, with Team I Run 4 Ultra member Carlos Sá during filming
The Marathon des Sables is a six-stage event. Each stage consists of roughly marathon distance. However, the middle stage, or infamous double, consists of 52 miles. Many run throughout the night in order to complete the race. While team IRUN4ULTRA faced potential dehydration and skin-searing blisters, they also had to contend with water rationing, which meant there was no chance to washing during the six days of the race.
Sanders’ IRUN4ULTRA team of elite athletes ran six marathons in over six days in the Sahara desert and tackled extreme temperatures exceeding 125 degrees Fahrenheit, unstable terrain consisting of dried river beds, endless sand dunes, rocky slopes, and burning salt flats. Mandated to carry all of their food and supplies on their backs during the race, which could not exceed 25 pounds in weight, team IRUN4ULTRA was challenged to the limit of their capabilities.
The experience of an ultramarathoner provides a compelling analogy to the daily struggles of an ADHD sufferer and his or her family. Both situations test one to the limit in order to adapt and survive. While children with ADHD may struggle with low self-esteem, troubled relationships, and poor performance in school, the symptoms sometimes lessen with age. However, some people never completely outgrow their ADHD symptoms but they can learn strategies to be successful.
Alessandro Beltrame films Team I Run 4 Ultra member Jason Schlarb as he trains for MdS in his home state of Colorado
Sanders’ IRUN4ULTRA team of five elite athletes, which included Jason Schlarb and Harvey Lewis (from the US), Carlos Sa (from Portugal), Ricardo Hernandez (from Mexico), and Marco Olmo (from Italy), took second place in the 2016 Marathon des Sables race!
“Desert Around Me” includes interviews with special education and healthcare professionals who have experienced working with those diagnosed with ADHD.
The film shows that even though life is often unfair, there is always hope, and, we all have the power within us to shape our own destiny by the choices we make.
Presently, it is estimated in the U.S. that only one out of two children diagnosed with ADHD receive treatment and unfortunately, ADHD receives less than five percent of funding to cover any behavior intervention for those with symptoms. Sanders plans to show “Desert Around Me” to audiences nationwide and internationally. Screening it in educational, healthcare, corporate, governmental, and religious settings would allow her to spread awareness about ADHD in order to eventually change legislation so that treatment options are available to everyone.