Do not lose hope

Published 8:00 am Saturday, September 1, 2018

4th annual Walk/Remembrance is Saturday, Sept. 8 at Harmon Field

TRYON — “Do not lose hope,” were the last words Caroline deRosset Wesley typed on Oct. 29, 2014. Her words have since sparked a movement in Polk County.

Wesley was the 21-year old daughter of Mary Prioleau, and shortly after her daughter’s suicide she was connected with Tamara Black, who had recently lost her brother, Jaheir Ford, 22, as well.

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The two set out to ensure hope for others, and started the Walk/Remembrance in 2015.

The 4th annual Walk/Remembrance will be held from 5:30-8 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 8 at Harmon Field.

The event coincides with National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month in September and National Suicide Prevent Week Sept. 9-15 this year.

This year’s event is being sponsored by Polk Fit Fresh and Friendly and funded by the Polk County Community Foundation.

PF3 is a wellness coalition dedicated to the treatment of the whole person.

“PF3 is proud to be a part of this worthwhile event,” said PF3’s Jimmi Buell. “We hope the community will come out and join us in supporting the Walk Remembrance and health fair.”

The event includes free food and activities, including t-shirts for both youth and adults this year.

Several agencies set up resource tables and there will be several voluntary health screenings available.

The Polk County High School basketball team will cook hot dogs and hamburgers, Side Street Pizza and Pasta is providing pizza and the Polk County Sheriff’s Office will be giving out “Do Not Lose Hope” temporary tattoos.

Polk County Schools Superintendent Aaron Greene will serve as DJ.

“I am honored to play a small role in the Remembrance Walk, and I am a believer in raising awareness and talking about community support,” said Greene. “The event seeks to bring attention to the significant impact mental health issues have on us all. I have seen the negative impact on countless young people and their families. We have lost too many young and promising lives to untreated depression, coping through substance abuse, overwhelming anxiety and unaddressed trauma.”

Greene said if this event can make a difference in one life, create more conversation about support and treatment or help remove the stigma associated with confronting mental health problems, then he wants to be a part of it.

“We just have to remember that the walk is only the spring board,” Greene said. “There is much more work to be done. We are fortunate that many in our community feel the same, and I look forward to participating this year.”

The Polk County High School band will also be on hand to play a few pieces in honor of a former band student who lost their battle over the summer.

The event includes a candlelit walk in memory of those who have lost their battle to suicide and a dove release.

“We recognize that mental health is a serious issue in our community so we are actively exploring ways to play a role in the solution,” PCCF President and CEO Elizabeth Nager said. “For example, we are supporting the upcoming Walk/Remembrance as well as resources and conferences for our school guidance counselors. In order to build personal resilience, foster strong bonds and nurture a sense of belonging, we are funding a variety of free community classes and activities.”