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A life-sized teddy bear is running through Arizona. The visit is part of a much-larger project and message

Jesse Larios is running from New York City to Los Angeles to raise awareness on mental health.

KINGMAN, Ariz. — A life-size teddy bear running through Arizona named Bearsun is bringing awareness to mental health by running from New York City to Los Angeles.

Jesse Larios, the man inside the giant character, began his journey on November 5th and since then has averaged running 40 miles a day.

He created the padded head, round red cheeks, and fluffy tail costume back in 2019. Since then, he’s used the costume to fundraise for several non-profits and organizations.

“The whole reason behind this was to give my character a life,” Larios said from his hotel room in Kingman.

Braving sweltering temperatures and strenuous roads, Bearsun has continued to run now for 68 days.

In 2021, he walked from Los Angeles to New York City. It took him 134 days to complete.

During that trip, he was gifted a pair of moccasins in the Navajo Nation as he passed through Arizona. That pair lasted him 200 miles. Jesse donated the shoes to the Museum of Northern Arizona during this trip for a special collection there.

Bearsun usually runs alone, but some have joined him for stretches of road in several states. Thousands follow his journey as he documents almost every step through social media.

“I wanted to look at this in a more artistic way,” he said. “Mental health and art together and shine more light towards it.”

It has been through his long cross-country journeys that Jesse admits he’s realized how much live events can have an adverse effect on a person's life, at times even stopping them from experiencing life.

“Life has so much to offer. It’s just endless opportunities for us to be trapped in our minds and go out there and live,” he said. 

“Mentally, I’m not going to lie, it’s been so hard, this run. I wanted to quit every day, but I pushed myself to keep going. I hope that’s the message that gets across.”

The 2,700-mile run will be the last for Bearsun, but Larios plans on giving the character a new life in the form of a book or movie. He’s thankful for all the people he met along the way, especially those to help him fund his journey.

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