Today was the Manhattan American Foundation for Suicide Prevention Out of the Darkness walk for this year. 2023 marks the 10th year that I’ve fundraised in honor of Ed’s memory. It’s been an interesting ten years fundraising. Each year, I share my personal story, which has evolved each year. And each year, I’ve somehow managed to elicit the support of not just my friends and family who have been repeat donors, but even new donors every time. Most of those new donors have been colleagues, new and old. Some have been friends or family members of my own friends and family. Others have even been complete strangers who found out about my brother’s story through an acquaintance or family member and felt compelled to donate. In all of these cases, I’ve always been touched that people would spend their hard-earned money to support this cause… all because I chose to share and be open about my brother’s story and ultimately, my family’s loss. It’s been a humbling experience to share his story and see who has felt something when reading it. I’ve lost count of the number of people who have told me they’ve personally been affected by suicide or struggled themselves. But this is how people start opening up, and I am proud to be a part of the journey of destigmatizing mental health and suicide ideation and prevention.
2023 is the first year I haven’t met my fundraising goal, though. I raised $4,790 out of a goal of $5,000. I’m still waiting on a match from my company, which would add another $100, as my company matches donations up to $100 each year per employee. I think I am waiting on one corporate match. But I guess it’s hard to expect people to donate year after year, especially when there are so many other charities and crises that need our attention. So I’m grateful for even the smallest contributions.
This is also the first year when Kaia has walked with me. Well, we pushed her in her stroller, but she did attend the walk, and she loved the Top Fundraising Team sign that we had for Ed. We also had Chris’s cousin and his daughter come from London, who also accompanied us at the walk, as well as my friends and their young daughter.
Each year when I am listening to the remarks at the opening ceremony, I cannot help but tear up while listening to all the stories of loss. Someone’s teen daughter died from suicide. Someone else lost their dad to suicide. The stories just keep going on and on, and I can feel the pain. It’s just so gut wrenching to hear these stories and see that this keeps happening over and over. But while it is sad, it makes me feel better knowing that I’m doing a little something for the community by fundraising each and doing this walk.