Out of Darkness Wellness Walk
Evy Brunelle ~ News Editor
The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention: Lynchburg Experience is still accepting donations until the end of the year after raising a total of $30,100 of a $55,000 goal for the foundation.
On Oct. 3, the Lynchburg community came together to raise awareness on mental health issues and funds at the Out of Darkness Walk.
Austin Nieves, a senior, played a key part in our campus’ involvement. He said, “From what I know, the University of Lynchburg has participated in the walk for the past five years. Dr. Tolbert has been the key for organizing this event the past couple of years. However, this is the second time our [men’s lacrosse] team has participated in the walk. We walked last year at Riverfront Park and this year around our beautiful campus.”
However, this year’s setup was a bit different because of Covid-19. Nieves said, “Due to Covid-19, the walk was not held at Riverfront Park. Instead, an online ceremony was held on Oct. 3 at 10 a.m., [and] anyone who wanted to could participate in any walk of their choosing after the ceremony concluded. With the help of our coaching staff and other faculty on campus we were able to spread the news about the walk.” Even with these changes, Nieves said that nearly 75 people still participated in the walk, including the entire men’s lacrosse team and women’s basketball team.
Nieves explained that this walk is important, saying, “Mental health impacts all of those around us. Family, friends, teammates, and other students may be suffering from this disease but are too scared/nervous to get help. We want to end the stigma around mental health. We want to start a conversation that allows people to be more open about their problems so they can get the professional help they deserve. We want to create a change so no one else has to lose a loved one to mental health/suicide.”
Maggie Quarles, a senior on the women’s basketball team, participated in the Out of Darkness Walk last year with her team and decided to do it again this year.
This walk is important to Quarles because, “suicide prevention is something close to my heart. I have seen, first hand, how suicide affects a family and what a tragic loss it is. I also think advocating for mental health and trying to break the stigma is extremely important and something I am passionate about.”
Quarles also thinks the Out of Darkness Walk is important for the community because of how much awareness it raises about suicide prevention. “Suicide is not an easy subject to talk about and is often surrounded with a negative connotation, but it is so important to raise awareness and try to make a push to have conversations and check in on the people you love. I think the walk is one of the best ways to get outside and have a chance to just talk to those around you, share stories, and walk together for a common goal.”
For more information on the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention: Lynchburg Experience, please visit https://afsp.donordrive.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=donorDrive.event&eventID=6732.