EATON — The Preble County Mental Health and Recovery Board and Preble County Suicide Coalition hosted the 10th Annual Walk to Remember, Walk for Hope Suicide Awareness 5K on Saturday, Sept. 25 at Seven Mile Park in Eaton.
Nearly 140 people came out for the annual walk which is dedicated to those in the community lost to suicide and to help raise awareness about depression and suicide, and over $5,000 was raised to fund the Preble County Suicide Coalition, which provides prevention, education, and programming to all county residents and all Preble County middle school and high school students.
“This year and last have been so hard on everyone. It was really nice just for everyone to be able to get together and have some connection with people who have, you know, gone through similar things and have experienced losses due to suicide or struggle with their own mental health,” said Whitney Loftis, Community Development & Outreach Coordinator at the Mental Health and Recovery Board. “I think we’re all realizing that this year, especially, has been very taxing mentally on people, and taking care of yourself and your loved ones is more important than ever.”
After introductions by Amy Raines (Executive Director of the Preble County Mental Health and Recovery Board) and Michelle Gebhart (Gebhart Counseling Solutions), Alexa Little, Program Coordinator of My Neighbor’s House, read an introduction on behalf of Terri Hundley-Widen, who started the Walk to Remember, Walk for Hope.
“In June of 2009, Terri and her family experienced a tragedy so many others in Preble County and across the world have experienced. Her beloved grandpa, Galen Hundley, died by suicide. Two years later, in 2011, as an outlet for her grief, this walk became an idea which quickly took fruition as her senior project at National Trail with the help and support of her family, Michelle Gebhart, Preble County Mental Health and Recovery Board and so many others,” Little said. “It’s been over 12 years now, and while a lot has changed, that missing piece of her family and deep-rooted grief remains. Twelve years, four high school graduations, three college graduations, two weddings, one grandchild, two great-grandchildren, countless games, ceremonies, accomplishments, and so much more have gone on without her grandpa here.”
She went on to say that the walk was started to continue raising awareness of loss by suicide, and to help defeat the stigma that keeps “so many from seeking help and provide hope.”
“Hope for a brighter tomorrow,” she said. “Hope that things will get better, and hope for a day without loss by suicide, and not another family experiences grief like this, as so many of you have.”
Loftis said the event went well, with lots of participation from the community and excitement for the event to be back after it was cancelled last year.
”We just thank everyone that participated and donated and just the support we got from the community,” she said. “It was very uplifting to have so much support.”
For more information, visit http://www.pcmhrb.org/suicide-awareness.html.
Reach Braden Moles at 937-683-4056 or on Twitter @BradenMoles