Morning of Hope for Hampton Roads healing

Published 9:47 pm Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Editor’s Note: This event has been rescheduled from Sept. 7 to Sept. 28 due to Hurricane Dorian. Participants may register through Sept. 27.

Thousands will come together this September from all seven cities in Hampton Roads and all five U.S. military branches to promote good mental health and mourn those lost to suicide.

The third annual Hampton Roads Morning of Hope walk will return to Mount Trashmore Park in Virginia Beach on Sept. 28 It’s sponsored by the nonprofit Hampton Roads Survivors of Suicide Group Inc., with more than 3,700 participants at last year’s Morning of Hope, according to

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Participants touched by depression or suicide will meet once again to prove that suicide is preventable, that depression is treatable and that those in pain are not alone. The walk is especially relevant this year in the wake of the deadly mass shooting in Virginia Beach on May 31, Gilchrist said. She noted that many people were affected by the shooting and may be suffering in silence.

“For this year it’s ‘VB Strong,’ but it’s also ‘VB Strong Not Alone,’” said event organizer and licensed social worker Chris Gilchrist, “because everybody in the seven cities of Hampton Roads was struck to the core. This event has more relevance, because it promotes the necessity of good mental health.”

Several speakers will raise awareness in an informative and moving program, which will open with a Joint Service Color Guard. Hundreds of names — each one a person that died as a result of depression or suicide — will be read during the ceremony.

Participants will walk through a curtain of 1,000 origami cranes, as the crane is an international symbol for healing, peace and hope.

There will also be more than a dozen professional counselors who will provide emotional support, answer questions and share information regarding depression, suicide prevention and grieving.

To help further facilitate this grieving, participants may wear colored ribbons. These armbands will have unique colors representing the relationships participants had to those that died — a purple ribbon for a child lost, red for a parent, blue for a spouse, green for a sibling and yellow for extended family, according to the website.

Some arms will have more than one ribbon, one for each life lost.

“The ribbons really form a connection,” Gilchrist said, as participants with ribbons identify and commune with one another. “It’s part of remembrance.”

Attendees may also place photos or mementos on the memory wall at the event in honor of their lost loved ones.

“People gravitate toward that,” Gilchrist said about the memory wall. “It’s bittersweet, but they don’t feel so alone. They feel the comfort of support. They feel the comfort in knowing they’re not alone, and they experience healing.”

But this walk is also about celebrating life and being uplifted by a sense of community.

People will enjoy a complimentary breakfast, and other refreshments from vendors like Chick-fil-A, Flowers Baking Co. of Norfolk, Starbucks, Sam’s Club and Rita’s Italian Ice.

There will be a picnic with music by the Ben Phelps Project Band, and arts and crafts for the whole family, from folding paper cranes to decorating Frisbees. A prize drawing will be held for a beautiful, handmade crane “peace” quilt.

Hampton Roads Morning of Hope is held annually to raise money towards mental health services and to keep those funds within Hampton Roads. It also creates a community for people to talk about how they were affected by depression or suicide with none of the stigma.

Check in will be from 8 to 9:30 a.m., followed by an opening program of “awareness, remembrance, and celebration.” Virginia Beach Mayor Bobby Dyer will deliver opening remarks. The program emcee will be Tom Schaad, anchor for WAVY-TV 10.

The walk and picnic will be from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. At noon, there will be a drawing on stage for the crane peace quilt.

Parking within Mt. Trashmore Park is very limited and is expected to fill up early, so participants are encouraged to carpool and arrive as early as possible.

Visit for registration and more information.