Quincy News

Walking for a cause

Walkers in the Quincy Out of the Darkness Walk at South Park on Saturday, Oct. 6, 2018. The walk is for suicide awareness and to raise funds for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. | H-W Photo/Jake Shane
Jake Shane 1|
By Herald-Whig
Posted: Oct. 6, 2018 12:01 am Updated: Oct. 6, 2018 11:20 pm

QUINCY -- Jennifer Swango took a walk on Saturday to remember someone she'll never forget.

Swango's cousin Donna Swango died last October from suicide.

She joined in this year's Out of the Darkness Walk, held at South Park, as another way to remember her cousin and to try to raise awareness "that possibly will stop another family having to go through the same thing," Swango said. "If we stop even one person, it's all worth it."

Jason Kutcher has lost nine people over the last four-plus years, including a good friend to suicide in January.

"I'm not a walker, and definitely not in the rain, but I will ... to memorialize everybody's who's been gone," said Kutcher, who started a suicide awareness and prevention effort in his hometown of LaGrange, Mo., and wants to see it expand.

Two other walks on Saturday morning in Quncy brought people together to support the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and to celebrate the Bill Klingner Trail in a 5K Trailblazer Powered by the Friends of the Trails.

Some 250,000 people nationwide will join in similar Out of the Darkness walks nationwide in an effort founded back in 2004 by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Quincy's walk started in 2007 and continues as a way to come together to stop suicide and to fight for additional prevention efforts, education and research, walk chairman Emily Allen said.

"Our walk is a lot of family, really honoring the memory of the loved ones that we've lost," Allen said.

A large family, all wearing matching pink T-shirts, walked in memory of Nate Jaynes, who committed suicide in April.

"Doing anything helps the healing process, just keeping him in your thoughts, bringing more attention to the mental health illness that exists," Nate's aunt Jessica Ferguson said. "Doing something like this, I'm hoping will help."

While the Fergusons walked, some 100 people walked, ran and rode bikes in the 11th annual Quincy Hy-Vee Walk Run Ride to Cure Diabetes in Upper Moorman Park.

The grocery store chain set a goal to raise $1.3 million this year for JDRF, and "we're just trying to do what we can here in Quincy," said Steve Labs, director of the Broadway store. "The main purpose is to raise money for the cause. We've had kids in strollers, wagons, dogs. People bring the whole family, and the majority of groups have been coming year after year. They have a child or family member they're raising money for."

At the same time, they're raising awareness, just like Allen.

"Suicide is currently the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S. When people come to our community walk or walks across our country, they're standing up saying we can no longer sweep suicide and mental health awareness under the rug," said Allen, bereavement and volunteer coordinator for Unity Point At Home, one of several sponsors for the walk. "That is something we all need to fight for in our communities."

Nine-year-old Katelyn Catterson usually sleeps in on a Saturday, but she was ready to walk with family members -- and practicing for an upcoming hike in scouts.

Katelyn's future stepmom Jessica Warner said, "I've worked in the mental health field for 10 years. Suicide affects a lot of people especially with mental health issues. I just think it's important to show support."

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