HOLYOKE, Mass. (WWLP) – Raising awareness and funds for suicide prevention. The Out of the Darkness Walk usually brings dozens together but this year will be different because of the pandemic.
Walkers are being asked to do a virtual walk this year. A “drop in” event hosted by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention was held Saturday morning but was only for walkers and coaches who raised $150 or more.
In the previous years, crowds of people would come, each one walking to honor a person who they have either lost to suicide or has struggled with it.
On Saturday, people were encouraged to walk whether it was in their neighborhood, a park or a trail. All with a common goal.
“This one is really deep in our hearts. It touches every one of us and we like to do our part,” said Edward Pinney of The Iron Order team.
The Iron Order raised roughly $2,700 with their “run” to New Hampshire. They were one of the teams to meet the fundraising threshold and were given a thank you at Saturday’s drop in.
Pinney told 22News they do the annual walk for their fellow rider, Ripper, who they lost three years ago.
“He was full of life and always happy,” Pinney recalled. “It just goes to show you, things can go wrong in a matter of seconds.”
The Iron Order’s loss is an experience shared by so many. And at the Out of the Darkness Walks people can use beads to show that connection. A tradition that is no different this year.
“We made sure that everyone who registers can come and grab their honor beads for today,” said Heather White, Area Director for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
While teammates celebrated raising so much for a good cause Saturday, they also took the time to sign letters that will soon spell out a bigger message.
“The letters ‘H’ and ‘O’ are on another site,” White said of the letters. “We’re asking people to write names of loved ones they’ve lost or encouraging letters and then we’ll put it all together as a collage of hope.”
22News is a proud sponsor of Saturday’s event.
More than $46,000 has already been raised but their goal is $175,000 this year. If you would like to donate, click here.
If you are in crisis, you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741.