Second annual walk/remembrance ceremony Oct. 8 at Harmon Field

Published 10:00 pm Friday, September 30, 2016

Left: Tamara Black with her brother Jah Ford. (photo submitted by Tamara Black). Right: Tamara Black with her brother Jah Ford. (photo submitted by Tamara Black)

Left: Mary Prioleau with her daughter Caroline Wesley. (photo submitted by Mary Prioleau). Right: Tamara Black with her brother Jah Ford. (photo submitted by Tamara Black)

TRYON – The second annual walk/remembrance will be held next Saturday, Oct. 8 to honor those who are currently struggling with mental illness and for those who have lost their struggle.

The walk will be held at Harmon Field from 6:30-8:30 p.m. with free food, T-shirts and candles provided. The event will also include speakers, a walk in honor of loved ones and a dove release.

Last year’s event was the first and drew approximately 250 people from all walks of life.

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Mary Prioleau and Tamara Black, who have both lost loved ones to suicide in the last couple of years, are organizing the event again this year.

Prioleau and Black met a couple of years ago after Black lost her brother, Jaheir “Jah” Ford and Prioleau lost her daughter, Caroline Wesley. Ford and Wesley were friends at Polk County High School while they were students and Prioleau reached out to Black’s family through Facebook. The two immediately began organizing how they can prevent the tragedy from happening to others through awareness.

Prioleau attended the Tryon Town Council meeting last Tuesday, Sept. 20 to speak of the event, saying she is anticipating double last year’s crowd. Prioleau said last year’s event was primarily paid for with what her daughter had left in her bank account when she committed suicide. Both Tryon and Polk County Sheriff Donald Hill agreed to donate $500 each to this year’s walk during the meeting.

Prioleau told Tryon Commissioners last year’s event was the most diverse crowd she has ever seen while living in Tryon.

Prioleau said at last year’s walk there was no predominant race or age of people who attended and, “it was beautiful.”

“It was total diversity but with commonality attached,” she said. “The walk is to honor those who are struggling with depression and mental illness and to honor those who have lost their lives.”

Prioleau also said so far this year there have been 30 documented suicides in Polk County. Polk County currently ranks number three in the state of North Carolina for the highest number of suicides according to Sheriff Hill. Nationally, the average is 177 suicides per day, with 20 of those suicides being veterans.

Suicide is the 10th cause of death in the United States and the second leading cause of death for people between the ages of 15-24.

Last year Black said mental illness is real and people don’t need to feel like they need to hide in silence.

“It’s an illness,” Black said. “It’s a disease. It takes over your brain and your mind and people need to start recognizing it.”

The event at Harmon Field is being held in conjunction with National Mental Health Awareness Week.

More information about the event can be found on Facebook by searching walk/remembrance.

“It is time to end the silence, end the stigma and shine hope on to those who suffer with depression and mental illness,” states the event’s Facebook page. “Equally, we must never forget those who have lost their battle!”

Next Saturday’s free event still needs donations. Anyone willing to donate can contact Prioleau at 828-899-9699.

For more information about next Saturday’s walk/remembrance contact Black at 828- 216-4477 or Prioleau at 828-899-9699 or find the event on Facebook through Walk/Remembrance Event.