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April 16, 2013 > Out of the Darkness Walk

Out of the Darkness Walk

By Isabella Ohlmeyer
Photos By Courtesy of Sally Bratton

"Walk on with hope in your heart, and you'll never walk alone." -Shah Rukh Khan

Take the path towards hope along with Ohlone College and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) in the 3rd annual "Out of the Darkness Walk" on April 23 on the Ohlone College Fremont campus.

The "Out of the Darkness Walk" first began at Ohlone in April 2011, five months after the tragic loss of lovable Ohlone campus security guard Stewart Dawson. Dawson's sister, Christina Brands, is still mourning the loss of her brother, but hopes to prevent others from committing suicide. On a fundraising page honoring her brother, Brands said, "Both his family and the Ohlone Campus community were devastated by his loss. We all wish that we could have prevented it in some way. Now we walk to help others become aware of suicide and its devastating effects."

Director of the Ohlone Health Center, Sally Bratton, RN, FNP, became the primary inspirational leader of the event and brought the idea of a suicide prevention walk to the Ohlone administration's attention. "There was so much grief on campus around the event of Dawson's passing that we thought this would provide much needed support and contribution to prevent other families from enduring this pain," Bratton said.

The Ohlone Student Health Center, American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, and the Out of the Darkness Walk Team all work together to plan and organize a successful annual walk of hope. Students and faculty are invited to walk three to five miles, twice around the circumference of the campus down to Mission Boulevard and up around the fire gates to raise suicide awareness.

Kevin Feliciano, a former Ohlone student and President of the Associated Students of Ohlone College, has been involved with the "Out of the Darkness Walk" since the first year it began, and has a personal connection to the event. "In January 2004 I attempted to commit suicide. Since then I have learned of the many resources available to people regarding suicide prevention. I participated to honor Stewart but also to share my story with people. To help people realize the signs leading up to suicide, to ask what's wrong and help in any way they can. It's important to me because I know there are other people to talk to, you don't have to go through this state on your own and that suicide is not the answer," Feliciano said.

People are encouraged to sign up online and to form teams to honor someone they have lost from suicide. All profits from the walk help fund the interactive screening program from AFSP, which the health center will send out online to 50 students per semester to assess their risk of suicide. If individuals want to help with registration, course monitoring, water table monitoring, parking, etc., contact the health center at (510) 659-6258 or e-mail sbratton@ohlone.edu. Those interested can also sign up to volunteer at www.stepupohlone.org.

Registration is free and begins at 11 a.m. at the patio area on the side of building 7 on the main Ohlone campus.

During the walk, there will also be a health fair compromised of community-based organizations who are involved with treatment and support of those suffering from mental illness.

Donations to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention are greatly appreciated, but are not mandatory. The Ohlone Campus Walk fundraising teams have an event goal of raising $3,500 and currently are at $1,575.

For more information about donating or registering for the campus walk, visit www.stepupohlone.org.

Out of the Darkness Walk
Tuesday, Apr 23
11 a.m. - 1 p.m.
Ohlone College
43600 Mission Boulevard, Fremont
(510) 659-6258
www.stepupohlone.org

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