Dr. Libby Powers is grateful for the support she has received for the Mid-Ohio Valley Out of the Darkness Community Walk in City Park.
Powers, founder and walk coordinator for the past five years, is stepping down as director but will remain involved in helping to raise money and awareness in the battle against suicide. Dr. Heather McCarter plans to take over as walk coordinator, Powers said.
Last Saturday's walk in Parkersburg brought out 170 walkers and raised about $7,000 for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Donations for the fifth annual walk are being accepted through Dec. 31 at www.outofthedarkness. org or at Powers' office, 3 Rosemar Circle, Suite D in Parkersburg.
A quilt stitched last year by nine women in memory of Powers' sister, Dr. Rebecca Ann Herriott of Florida, who died from suicide, generated more than $1,500 for the suicide prevention cause. Tickets were purchased for the quilt, which was raffled off at the walk.
The Mountaineer Parrothead Club, based in Wood County, donated $2,000 to Out of the Darkness, the largest donation received. The money came from the Parrothead Club's fundraising party on June 2 in Bicentennial Park.
Other highlights of the City Park walk included the release of 40 butterflies, symbolizing a life and hope; Adam Stinespring of Springfield, W.Va., sang, played the guitar and walked, and people left notes about loved ones on a memory wall.
Amy Fiske, Ph.D., associate professor of clinical psychology at West Virginia University, talked about research being done on suicide and depression among older adults and how to prevent suicide from happening.
World Suicide Prevention Day will be observed Sept. 10 in Parkersburg with a candlelight remembrance at the City Park pond.
Powers left these sobering statistics with me:
* Every 14.2 minutes someone in the United States dies by suicide.
* Nearly one million people make a suicide attempt every year.
* Ninety percent of the people who die by suicide have a diagnosable and treatable psychiatric disorder at the time of their death.
* There were 154 suicides by active duty U.S. service members and reservists in the first 155 days of this year - 50 percent more than U.S. troops killed in combat in Afghanistan and an 18 percent increase from last year, according to the Pentagon.
"It is so necessary that the courageous group that has gathered each year at the park speaks out loud, instead of whispering any more, about suicide and mental illness, so that others will hear and the stigma will be erased," Powers said.
In two years, Misti Sims and her husband, Jason Bauer, along with a dedicated committee, have created one of the most successful charity golf outings in the Parkersburg area. Last Saturday's "Kiss My MS" golf scramble at Worthington Golf Club raised $10,000 for the Multiple Sclerosis Association of America - double the amount raised last year. Sims, who has multiple sclerosis, credited outstanding community support and committee members such as Stacia Pierce, Mark Morgan and Tom and Chriss Evans with making the fundraiser a huge success. Tied for first place with a 15-under par 56 were the team of Tom Meeks, Tim Meeks, Trae Sprague and Brian Hayhurst and the team of Jay Shively, Josh Goodnight, Jeff Cowan and Bob Meadows. The two teams (out of 36 teams) remained tied after a four-hole playoff and split the winning purse of $1,400. Also winning monetary prizes were Scheny Schenerlein for closest to the pin on No. 4 and Buddy Butler for closest to the pin on No. 16. Denny Harton won a putting contest. Major sponsors were Smoker Friendly and Amanda J Designs of State College, Pa., owned by Amanda Johnson. Amanda is married to former Parkersburg High School and Penn State football player Brad Johnson, who played in the golf scramble.
Contact Paul LaPann at firstname.lastname@example.org