It was an exceptionally warm October day on Sunday. Feeling more like early September than late October. A beautiful day with sunshine coupled with leaves changing color. My family (three of us; my son, my husband and I) went for a walk in the park.
We were not alone. Hundreds (perhaps even close to a thousand) people were gathered there. None of us were there because it was such a lovely autumn day. (Although that certainly helped.) We were there for the first (to our town) Out of the Darkness Community Walk to support the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
If you didn’t know better you’d think it was a huge party of some sort. There were so many people! There was so much love…hugs and conversation. A few tears fell too. Some great music was playing (and I wasn’t afraid to shake my booty). There was a celebratory air. And in some ways it was a celebration; a celebration of what CAN be achieved when we work together to get a message out. When we halt silly stigmas and fears to listen, talk, console and comfort; just see what wonderful things can happen.
The event was a PROCLAMATION! Every single person there was dedicated to getting the message out. Spreading the word that each and every one of us was supporting the mission of AFSP. This throng of people was committed to save lives and bring hope.
It was a loud DECLARATION! You are NOT alone. If only those who are no longer with us could have seen the throng of people. We are NOT alone. It may feel that way in the moments of darkness (and we ALL have them at one time or another), but you/we are NOT alone. Each one of us has a purpose and meaning. Each life touches another. While it may seem like one “small” person cannot make an impact, this event was living proof that they can.
As we walked together, we enveloped the park. The path around the park’s lake was crowded with people of all ages and races. As my small family was toward the front of the “line”, I was able to look back as we turned at one end of the lake and I could see the path full of walkers. And even more who had not yet started to walk. It was a line of love. A line of caring. It was a wave of people DETERMINED to make a difference.
It may have been the first walk for our town, but I doubt as if it will be the last. I KNOW it is just the first small step for my family. Who ever thought at team of three could raise over $800 in funds? See where passion can lead you! And personally my heart is filled with love and gratefulness for all wonderful and supportive friends we have! To each and every one of you: THANK YOU! While raising money is important, knowing that so many were with us in spirit/prayer/thought meant more.
I am proud to live in a community where so many are committed to raising awareness. Where so many are dedicated to DOING something.
And this is just the beginning…
Beth Shorten is a life-long resident of Verona. For more than four years, she has been chronicling life here on her personal site, Bfth’s Boring Blog. The Montclair-Verona Out of the Darkeness Walk has raised, as of now, more than $110,000, which will help fund programs on suicide awareness and prevention in our area.