Over 250 supporters participated in the first-time Tuscarawas County Out of Darkness walk event that was held at Lee Stadium on Sunday, Sept. 27.
The event was chaired by Kristie Wilkin and co-chaired by Vickie Bricker.
Former Detroit Lions football quarterback Eric Hipple was one of the key speakers for the event. Hipple lost his teen-aged son to suicide and now supports suicide prevention education. He currently works as Outreach Coordinator for the University of Michigan.
Prior to the official opening of the Out of Darkness event, Hipple addressed members of the Newcomerstown High School Trojans football team. Members of the Trojan football team later participated, showing their support by assisting in the concession area, serving the participants, and supporters throughout the afternoon.
The Rev. Bracken Foster of the Newcomerstown Christ United Methodist Church blessed the event, offering spiritual encouragement to the participants. Pastor Jim Humphrey of the First United Methodist Church in New Philadelphia had originally been scheduled to offer the spiritual blessing, but was unable to attend due to the death of a family member.
The event featured several support speakers including: Belle Everett, Tuscarawas County commissioner; Newcomerstown High School senior Jayde Bricker; and educators from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. A special balloon launch took place, and survivors were honored with a Memory Board display. Disc jockey Daniel Liedtke of Mobile Jams provided the music for the event. Survivors and participants wore color specific beads that designated their own personal loss.
According to chairperson Wilkin, the event has generated a total of $9,800. She said many persons are still donating, and that the total is expected to exceed $10,000 mark.
Those that are interested in making a contribution for the event can still do so by going to the website: Tuscarawas/County Out of Darkness Walk.