Happiness is Out There: The Searching for Sero Project

Kalob Grady surfs Garb on the Ottawa River in Beachburg, ON. Photo by John Rathwell.
MEC Paddling Ambassador Kalob Grady surfs Garb on the Ottawa River. Photo by John Rathwell.


Pro photographer John Rathwell and partner Tracy Guenard are sacrificing everything for the sake of suicide prevention. After Rathwell lost his father, and Guenard her aunt to suicide, the couple decided to do something about it. They wanted to spread the word about mental wellness and suicide prevention. They plan to spend two years traveling the continent gathering photographs and stories of those who use outdoor adventure to find happiness and balance in their lives. At the end of their travels, the couple plans to create a photo book and donate proceeds to charities working in suicide prevention. The project is called Searching For Sero. “Sero” is short for serotonin, the brain chemical believed to contribute to the feeling of happiness. Recent studies have shown that time outdoors and exercise are major contributors to increasing levels of serotonin.

The couple has fronted the money to start the project and restore the old iconic VW Westfalia van they purchased. They have turned to crowd-funding to help support the road leg of the project. The campaign surpassed 50% of their goal late last week. “The funds from the campaign will go directly into the cost of the gas that will fuel the project,” says Rathwell.


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Photo by John Rathwell.
Unidentified skier on Gun Turret, Fuze Bowl, Kicking Horse Resort. Photo by John Rathwell.


You can help support their project on IndieGoGo. The project aims for a $10,000 CDN goal in the next 30 days in order to launch the two-year project. Several stories have already been published online to showcase what they plan to do once they hit the road next spring.

“There are so many people out there struggling to find their happy place,” says Rathwell, “and we believe we can make a difference. We hope to inspire people to truly make positive changes in their lives. We trust that people will see the value in what we are doing and help make this project happen.” Check out more background on the project here.


Photo by John Rathwell.
Dane Jackson drops Truchas Falls, Veracruz, Mexico. The full image (this version is cropped for the ML website) is available on the Searching for Sero crowdfunding page for $750 in a 24×36 inch canvas, signed by Dane. Photo by John Rathwell.