Sharing Hope Walk to Prevent Suicide Happening this Saturday in Carson Park in Eau Claire
Tuesday, September 10th, 2019 -- 12:27 pm
Posted by Riley Hebert-News Director
-On Saturday, September 14th, the Sharing Hope Walk to Prevent Suicide will be happening in Carson Park in Eau Claire.
I spoke with Sirissa Kromenaker, one of the organizers of the event, and she explained the walk in more detail.
“So, several years ago, probably six or seven years ago, we started with a walk in the Eau Claire community that was correlated with a much larger organization. And we raised a lot of money through that walk. We had great turnout, but we struggled to be able to use those funds here locally. And we saw the impact of suicide on the Chippewa Valley, really focusing in on Dunn County, Eau Claire County and Chippewa County and how we could better serve our own community members and neighbors.”
“So, we created the Sharing Hope Walk and broke away from the national organization and kept all of the funds locally here. 100% of what we raise stays here locally. And it is a walk that it meant to be more of a contemplative walk. It’s not about distance or time. It’s a little less than a mile. If you don’t want to walk, you can stay in the common area by the pavilion. So, it’s really just a community event to bring together the Chippewa Valley to show support to those that are struggling, to those that have lost someone to suicide, for those who work with those that struggle with their mental health and to show that we are all here to support and to help share their journey with them.”
They’ve seen a great response from the public and businesses about the walk.
“Historically, we had a high turnout and then last year when we broke away and we created our own walk, we knew we’d be starting over and new media, all that kind of stuff. But last year we had over 500 people attend and we raised $19,000 for the Chippewa Valley, so we thought that was a great success. We’re hoping to have more community members come out this year. The walk is free. The money that we raise is based only on people that want to provide donations. And then we also do an envelope raffle.”
“So, some people put together teams and they have friends and family pledge money to raise a certain amount of money as a goal for the walk. But anyone can come and they don’t have to pay a cent to be able to participate in the walk, participate in the events that day. The envelope raffle is a $20 envelope, and you can buy more than one, and you’re guaranteed to have at least a $20 prize, if not something more. So, you might walk away with a couple pizzas from Pizza Hut or you might get a flat screen TV, so it’s just a wide variety of different prizes and those are all donated by various businesses and community members.”
“We’re lucky to have had partnerships with many of these businesses for years and they continue to come out and show support. Some even put together their own teams and participate in the walk.”
Sirissa explained how people can get registered for the event.
“There are several ways that people can do that. One, they can show up the day of the walk, which is September 14th. It’s in Carson Park at the Pine Pavilion and registration starts at 8:30am. And the walk itself starts at 10am. And, like I said, it’s a short contemplative walk. And when they get there at 8:30am, they can register in person. And there will be forms that they can sign. There’s a waiver. They just have to give their name and sign a waiver and they can participate that way.”
“We’ll also have some technology for people to be able to register right online. Otherwise, to save time, and what we recommend, is going right to our website, which is sharinghopechippewavalley.org, and they can click on registration at the very top of the page and get themselves registered, they can register a team, they can donate money through there. Otherwise, there will be various places throughout the walk where they can make monetary donations.”
“And we will also have the chip readers this year, which is new, we haven’t had that in the past, to be able to take donations and pay for the t-shirts via the chip. So, we are selling t-shirts this year. They’re lime green. They’re really cool. Lime green with black writing and they’re $10 each.”
“And then we also have, for free, just included for being a part of the event, is coffee and doughnuts. We have doughnuts donated by Dunkin’ Doughnuts. So, we pay half and they donate half, which is awesome. They continue to do that for years. And then there’s face painting. There’s a Henna family that does different Henna tattoos. There’s around 11 booths of different community agencies that are providing information surrounding mental health and services. The Eau Claire Police Department is always there and they join us and provide information. We have a wall, called the Hope Wall, and that’s where people can create, we have paper and markers, and they can create a message of hope, they can create a memorial, they can put a quote, draw a picture and it all goes up on a net, a big wall. And it looks really neat when everybody’s picture is up on the wall.”
“Then there’s also the shoe display, which can be challenging for some folks. It’s a really somber area. We have shoes to represent each of the lives lost in the last 5 years in the Chippewa Valley. We have the shoes to kind of match their gender and age. And we line those up and there’s a poem that goes along with that. It’s just a visual representation of how much suicide has impacted the community. And our hope is that each year the number of shoes we set out goes down drastically.”
With all the activities going on, it’s a great family event.
“I think that most of the members bring their family and children. And you can also bring your well-behaved dog on a leash. And we’ll have special treats for them too.”
If you’d like to learn more about the walk, you can head to their website or Facebook page.
“We do have a Facebook page, the Sharing Hope Facebook page. All the information is listed right in there. And I should note too that this walk is put on both by Prevent Suicide Chippewa Valley and the Chippewa Valley National Alliance on Mental Illness. So, you’ll notice there is an event on Facebook that outlines all the details of the walk and you can say that you’re going and get updates. And that event is hosted by NAMI.”
Finally, Sirissa explained what she hopes people take away from the walk.
“What we hope initially is that they feel that sense of community when they walk up. They see how many people are there who might have similar struggles as they do. To help people not feel isolated and alone. To get them out and communicating with people, maybe making connections that can last beyond the walk.”
“And then secondly, we would really hope that with all the various community booths with information, that if people are not connected to resources in the community, that they would be able to find those connections and get some of the help that they might need.”
“We don’t want mental health and suicide to be something that people avoid talking about. So, the hope is, that with an event like this, to bring your family, to bring friends, that we can spread the word to reduce the mental health stigma.”
Once again, the Sharing Hope Walk to Prevent Suicide is being held in Carson Park in Eau Claire on Saturday, September 14th.