Walk set for September

Published 5:28 pm Saturday, August 11, 2018

For the second year, Suffolk’s Out of the Darkness Walk will have their event at Bennett’s Creek Park in September.

The walk is going to take place from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sept. 22 at Bennett’s Creek Park.

The community walk will help fundraise money for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention local and national education and advocacy programs. The walk is also a chance for family and friends mourned the lives of loved ones lost to suicide.

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“A lot of people have lost people to suicide and they feel trapped in their own minds and their own houses,” said Chairman Robert Avila. “Doing this gets them out and makes them realize they aren’t the only ones struggling and they have other families out there to support and give comfort.”

Last year, the Suffolk event raised $19,000 for the cause, but this year they are setting their sights higher for a goal of $25,000. As of Friday afternoon, they have raised over $5,000.

Before bringing the event directly to Suffolk, there was only one large Hampton Roads Out of the Darkness Walk.

“Last year was the first year in Suffolk. They decided to break into different cities because the event would have 6,000 or 7,000 people,” Avila said. “Now people in Isle of Wight or Carrolton can come rather than drive all the way to Virginia Beach.”

The event will consist of more than just a walk. People at the walk will have an entire morning to celebrate the life of their loved ones and remind the those suffering from mental illness that they aren’t alone.

“At first everyone gets a necklace that has a significant color and it represents the type of loss they dealt with,” Avila said.

The Suffolk walk has had plenty of other activities used to celebrate the lives of loved ones like hanging up photos of the people that have passed and writing words of inspiration and hope.

Along with positive activities, there will be a guest speaker to provide comfort and encouraging words to participants.

The walk itself will consist of five laps around Bennett’s Creek Park, which totals 1.5 miles.

“These walks are about turning hope into action,” said AFSP CEO Robert Gebbia in a press release. “Suicide is a serious problem, but it’s a problem we can solve. The research has shown us how to fight suicide, and if we keep up the fight the science is only going to get better, our culture will get smarter about mental health, and we’ll be able to save more people from dying from depression and other mental health conditions.”

Local sponsors for the Suffolk Out of the Darkness Community Walk include Obici Healthcare, Shaffer Settlements Insurance, Title Quest, Tidewater Property Specialist, Ferrera Building Group and American Steamers.