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Remembering those who lost their battles

More than 200 turn out for 7th annual Walk/Remembrance

TRYON—This year was something special. 

Maybe it was the pandemic and because the walk had to be cancelled last year, but more than 200 people gathered at Harmon Field on Saturday to remember those lost to mental health. 

The 7th annual Walk/Remembrance was held with free food and t-shirts, a walk to remember those who have lost their battles to mental health through suicide or substance abuse, children’s games and activities and a dove release. Local organizations were also on hand to give information about local resources. 

Organizers Mary Prioleau and Tamara Black started the walk after Prioleau lost her daughter to suicide in 2015 and Black lost her brother. The 2 victims were friends in high school at Polk County. 

Prioleau said she thought this year was especially meaningful because there were young people who were truly moved by the event. She said she spoke to many people who needed to be there this year. 

“The people that needed to be there, found a way to be there this year,” Prioleau said. “I think this year mattered more than any.” 

Prioleau also said probably half the people had never been before. 

Aaron Greene, who was the DJ for the event, said the Walk/Remembrance is very important for our community. 

“It affords people a chance to come together in support of each other, to share information and resources for assistance and to keep the conversations about mental wellness going,” Greene said. “Keeping a focus on these topics and people help us spread Hope. Some people tell us the event and connections they make there keep them going. That alone is reason enough to continue.” 

The event is aimed to help end the silence and stigma associated with mental illness and to honor and remember those locally who have lost their battles.

September is National Suicide Prevention Month and the Do Not Lose Hope movement placed displays in Stearns Park in honor of the month of September. 

There were 132 sunflowers representing the number of suicides in the U.S. daily; the Wall, which is a banner of lost hope and potential that has 132 faces by name and date lost to local people. 

In 2019 there was also an average of 254 overdoses in the United States every day. 

The food was provided by Sidestreet, Buck’s Pizza and the Brick. The event also had snow cones and cotton candy. 

The movement is done free through generous donors, the Polk County Health and Wellness Coalition, the Polk County Sheriff’s Office and the Polk County Community Foundation.