Walk will raise money for suicide prevention group
BY BRIDGET BALCH
Every 15 minutes, a person in the United States dies by suicide, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
More than 36,000 lives are claimed annually, and suicide is the second leading cause of death for teens and young adults in the nation, according to the AFSP.
For the past four years, Fredericksburg area residents have participated in Out of the Darkness Community Walks to raise awareness and money to prevent suicides.
Sarah Adams and other Courtland High School students started the Spotsylvania chapter of Out of the Darkness in 2008 after three of their classmates committed suicide within a year and a half.
Adams said she and a friend approached a guidance counselor about starting the chapter after the tragedies, and school officials were very supportive.
This year, the 5k walk will take place Oct. 20, from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., at Spotsylvania Courthouse Village. The local Out of the Darkness walk is one of more than 200 taking place across the nation this fall.
Proceeds from the walks go to the AFSP, a national not-for-profit organization dedicated to funding scientific research, increasing education and awareness of mental health disorders, promoting policies and legislation that impact suicide prevention and providing support programs for those affected by suicide.
Since 2000, the AFSP has given more than $10 million in grants to scientific research on the neurobiological, genetic, epidemiological, clinical, psychological and sociological aspects of suicide, says the AFSP website.
Although a financial donation is not required to participate in the walk, Adams said the goal is to have 300 participants in the local walk and to raise $20,000 for the AFSP. Walkers are encouraged to donate to the cause and seek donations from friends, relatives and others.
The organizers already have surpassed their goal for participants, with 338 registered as of Oct. 12. And they were a little more than halfway to their fundraising goal as of Oct. 12, with $10,674 raised.
Adams said the community and local businesses have responded well to the cause over the past five years.
“Overall, Spotsylvania has been really supportive,” Adams said.
The businesses in Spotsylvania Courthouse Village, the location of the walk, have been particularly helpful this year, she said. Harvest Market, Food Lion, Noodles & Company and Solid Grounds Café have agreed to donate food for the event.
Fredericksburg Cyclists, Fredericksburg Jazzercise Center, the Knights of Columbus, WJ Vakos construction company and the Spotsylvania Courthouse Village will volunteer at the walk, and Hunter Wolfe, a blues musician, will provide musical entertainment.
Those who wish to participate can register online at afsp.donordrive.com by noon Oct. 19 or in person at the walk.
Donations are also accepted on the website throughout the year.
WANT TO GO?
Out of the Darkness Community Walks take place nationwide to raise money for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (afsp.org). A local walk will be held Oct. 20 at Spotsylvania Courthouse Village at 9:30 a.m. You can register online at afsp.donordrive.com until Oct. 19 at noon., or register in person the morning of Oct. 20.
Bridget Balch: 540/374-5444