They gathered to walk in the brightness of day to bring a deadly issue out of the shadows.
Approximately 200 people gathered at Blaine High School Sept. 15 to walk in the third annual Out of the Darkness community walk, sponsored by Minneapolis chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP).
“The event raises awareness and promotes suicide prevention,” said Blaine Walk Chairperson Donna Hayes, who lost her son Tom to suicide in 2009.
The participants left the school at noon and walked 1.5 miles to Northdale Middle School before returning to the high school.
This was the first year the walk has left the high school campus, Hayes said.
After receiving feedback from last year’s participants, the decision was made to take the walk out into the community in hopes of raising more awareness of suicide and suicide prevention, she said.
The event also raised $8,000 for suicide prevention and other resources.
The group will continue raising money through Dec. 31 in hopes of raising $10,000, Hayes said.
The Blaine walk is one of six in the state.
When she created the walk in 2010, the closest walk was at Como Park and that was too far for the teenagers wanted to be involved to travel, Hayes said.
The Blaine walk was created in the wake of several Anoka-Hennepin School District 11 students that had committed suicide as well as her nearly 17-year-old son.
“Something had to be done to raise awareness,” Hayes said.
Although the walk is done for this year, there will be a second fund-raiser April 6, 2013 at CR Billiards.
There will be a spaghetti dinner and a silent auction with the proceeds going to research to help the surviving families and local groups.
For more information on suicide and suicide prevention or to make a donation, visit www.AFSP.org.
Tammy Sakry is at [email protected]