With the Suicide Prevention Walk just being a few weeks away Co-Chair Vickie Fisher announced the agenda for the day.

The Sunday, Sept. 24 event kicks off at 1 p.m. with registration. At 2 p.m., Sam Hitchcock, director of Park Place Teen Center and president of New Philadelphia City Council will welcome walkers and attendees, followed by main speaker Brad Hurtig, an Ohio native, who will share his story of never giving up, despite a devastating loss of both hands in an industrial accident while still in high school. Brad was a standout high school football player at the time of the accident, and after extensive rehabilitation he was able to return to football his senior year. Brad’s message will be one of hope.

Also taking part will be another Ohio native Jimmy Alexander, who survived his own suicide attempts, and other life challenges. He is now mentoring and sharing his message. Jimmy will also bless the walk. Pam Marlatt Leyda, survivor of suicide loss, and suicide prevention advocate states: "Jimmy is an amazing individual with ties to the local area, and we expect his testimony to be powerful. He is someone who has overcome so many obstacles, and now helps others out of the darkness and into the light".

Vickie Fisher said, "Kristie (Wilkin) and I are so blessed to have crossed paths with him, and personally heard of his struggles, as well as his amazing rebirth. We know all attendees will be moved by his amazing story of faith and hope."

In addition, Jenn Dotto of New Philadelphia, survivor of suicide loss, and suicide prevention advocate will share about the recent loss of her adult brother to suicide. Jenn is very passionate when it comes to prevention, and she has been an awesome fundraiser and advocate. Her team – the New Philadelphia V.F.W. has already raised over $5,000 for the walk that will stay locally and be used for suicide prevention initiatives in local counties. Jenn’s hope is to never see anyone else go through the loss of a family member to suicide.

The walkers will then be led in yoga before the walk, coached by Kathleen Novacheck Johnson of the Tuscarawas Co. YMCA. A balloon launch to honor survivors of suicide loss, and loved ones lost to suicide is next and the walk will follow the launch.

Other highlights include: D.J. Daniel Liedtke of Mobile Jams Entertainment, team pictures by Carol Meek and Sarah Williams, a memory banner to write a message to a loved one or loved ones passing from suicide, free refreshments, various community outreach exhibits and information, and a time of bonding with other survivors of suicide who feel the same pain and feelings of loss.

"It’s not too late to walk – you can still sign up a team on-line, or you can come and register the day of the walk. In addition, donations are being accepted on-line by going to the Adamhs Board Website – adamhtc.org, and then clicking on the Suicide Prevention Walk Tab. An accounting staff will be available to take donations on the day of the walk. There is no registration fee to walk," Fisher said.

Kristie Wilkin summarized by saying, "If you don’t want to walk, come and listen to the speakers, have some refreshments, and see what our walk is all about. The walk is rain or shine, and of course we are hoping for a beautiful day of sunshine, but if not, we will still go forward with the provisions we have put in place for the possibility of rain."

For more information about the walk, contact Wilkin at 740-294-8496, or tkwilkin@sbcglobal.net or Fisher at 740-502-4616. Signs will be posted the day of the walk from I-77 in Newcomerstown to Lee Stadium.

Dave Schaffer of the ADAMHS Board of Tusc./?Carroll Co. said he is very proud of what the Survivor of Suicide Group – Tusc./?Carroll County that his office sponsors has accomplished to make this walk (local) a reality.

According to Dave, "The current Survivor of Suicide Group facilitated by Kristie Wilkin is a very active and close group. They consider themselves to be as much suicide prevention advocates, as they are survivors of a suicide loss. Unfortunately, the group members have watched more and more people attend meetings due to suicide loss in our local counties, and although they want to help survivors cope with their loss, they also want to prevent any other family from going through this type of loss. Each year the walk grows in many ways, and I’m happy the walk is sponsored by the ADAMHS Board this year, and the group will be seeing the funds raised stay local. In addition the Survivor of Suicide Support Group will be key in helping decide best how to use these funds in the area of prevention and support."

The support group meets on the third Tuesday of each month at 6:30 p.m. in the ADHAMS Board office, and any survivor of suicide is welcome to attend meetings. Survivors are considered to be family, friends, and co-workers of the person that passed away by suicide. For more information on the group, call the ADAMHS Board at 330-364-6488 or contact Kristie directly at 740-294-8496.

On Facebook, search "WALK INTO THE LIGHT" and like the page to start getting updates and info on the speakers, events, and support group meetings.

Walk Co-Chair Kristie Wilkin closed by saying: "There have been so many suicide losses in our local counties this year – (18 that the group knows of since April – and Spring is a time when we see a spike in losses to suicide). Suicide can be prevented, but many times people feel they can’t reach out for help because of the stigma that surrounds mental illness and suicide. 

However, depression is considered mental illness, and statistics say 1 in 5 people suffer from depression in their life. If you are feeling suicidal, please reach out to someone – there are many local resources you can contact via the ADAMHS Board, and you can also call 1-800-273-TALK, the National Suicide Hotline."