As a part of a year-long initiative to raise awareness and donations in the fight to prevent suicide, Florida Southern Athletics participated in the Out of Darkness walk on Dec. 1.
Hosted by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), this was the fourth annual Polk County Walk. Before the event began around 9 a.m., $21,858 in donations had been made, surpassing the $16,000 goal. Donations are still being accepted through Dec. 31.
Members of the multiple FSC teams showed up to volunteer their time in setting up and breaking down the event as well as participate in the walk itself. Director of Athletic Communications Ryan Bower and Strength and Condition Coach Zack Wallace were also in attendance.
“It means a lot to let people know that there are people there to support them, regardless of what they’re going through,” Wallace said. “They just have to speak out, and we are trying to bring awareness to that, a comfort that you can say something and not be ostracized by it.”
Regional Director, Tara Sullivan-Larson, spoke before the walk began thanking everyone for coming out and supporting the cause.
“Together we are creating a culture that is smart about mental health,” Sullivan-Larson said. “By showing up and walking with us, you are showing others that they are not alone.”
The walk took place around Lake Hollingsworth, which is approximately three miles long.
“I think it’s great to have this event right by campus because I think the convenience of it is great for our students, especially in a time when the semester is winding down,” Wallace said. “Also the fact that our school is behind it and making donations for the cause allows our staff to come out here and just support everyone.”
Florida Southern students showed their support for the cause by showing up and participating. Members of Alpha Chi Omega sorority came in support of one of their sister’s friends who committed suicide in high school.
“I noticed that last year at this event there were just a few FSC students, but now there is definitely a lot more,” senior Allie Howard said. “I think it has gained a lot of ground in the past year and more people have heard about it, which is the whole goal of this program, to get the conversation started.”
Upcoming suicide awareness events include the men’s and women’s basketball games against Eckerd College on Jan. 16, and against Nova Southeastern University on Feb. 2.
To donate, you can visit here.