JD Foundation Walk/Run to Wake the Silence for suicide prevention May 4
DOVER-FOXCROFT — For the fourth year in a row the Abbot-based JD Foundation invites the community to honor those who have died by suicide and support survivors and families impacted at the organization’s Walk/Run to Wake the Silence. The 5-kilometer event will start at 10 a.m. on Saturday, May 4, with an opening ceremony at 9:45 a.m. and registration beginning at 8 a.m., at the Piscataquis Regional YMCA on Park Street.
“We have a different route this year,” JD Foundation founder Cheryl Morin said in her organization’s converted carriage house office next to her home on the Main Road in Abbot. The starting point and finish line will both be at the PRYMCA as participants — who can choose to walk or run the course — take a right toward North Street.
From the traffic light they will head up West Main Street and turn onto the trail to Forest Street for a return via Park Street. Morin said an ATV will be on the path in case anyone ends up having difficulties traveling on foot.
“We also have a 1-mile walk for people who can’t do a 5K,” she said.
“Our walk is going to be amazing this year,” Morin said. “I think we will have 300 this year, at least,” she added, which would surpass the previous high of 200-plus in 2018.
Registration can be done in advance through the Red Podium website at https://jdfoundation5k.redpodium.com/walkrun-to-wake-the-silence-050419 or on site the morning of the event.
Morin said last year’s Walk/Run to Wake the Silence raised an event-high $15,000 and “we are hoping to raise $20,000 this year” for the JD Foundation’s biggest fundraiser. All proceeds benefit the work of the JD Foundation, which for more than a decade has been working as an educational tool across Maine in order to bring suicide prevention and bullying rates down through awareness and education.
“This year we are doing a challenge,” she said. “The school that brings in the most pledges receives a $500 check from us that can be put toward any program of their choosing at their school.”
So far students from Greenville High School, PCHS, Foxcroft Academy, the SeDoMoCha School, Central Community Elementary School/Central Middle School have signed up and/or indicated interest in taking part on May 4. “Any school’s welcome to get involved,” Morin said.
“Getting the students involved is a huge accomplishment, I feel like our generation is planting the seed and trying to make a difference in talking out loud about difficult subjects like suicide and mental health,” Morin said. She said younger members of the community are taking this concept and running with it.
“I want them to be recognized every step of the way because they are special people,” she said. “In some ways it’s easier to do a walk for cancer or diabetes because there is less stigma. They are saying ‘we don’t want this anymore, we want to help prevent suicide.’”
She said 14-year-old Kholton Perry of Dover-Foxcroft is once again busy raising thousands of dollars on his own for the JD Foundation via the Walk/Run to Wake the Silence. “It affected him so he wants to do something positive and that is amazing for a young person,” Morin said.
The 2019 Walk/Run to Wake the Silence will feature more than a dozen businesses and nonprofits set up at the PRYMCA campus, such as Mayo Regional Hospital, Community Health & Counseling Services, Care & Comfort, Rape Response Services, massage therapy and more. Morin said similar groups can still get involved and they are asked to contact her if interested.
She said there will probably be around 50 walk contributors by May 4. “We have a lot of repeat businesses that sponsors us,” Morin said in thanking all those who support JD Foundation events throughout the year.
A paper tree with leaves featuring the names of those who have died by suicide will be at the walk again in 2019 and then returning to inside the frame hung on the wall at the JD Foundation office. Morin said after this year a new tree will be needed.
Walkers and runners can blow bubbles along the route, a more environmentally-friendly activity than releasing balloons, to music. Morin said water, granola bars and oranges will be available for those upon finish.
She said once everyone has returned to the PRYMCA they will head down to the stream in Kiwanis Park for the closing ceremony. “At the opening there is a book where you can write down the name of someone lost,” Morin said,
These names will be read aloud during as friends and loved ones can place a white carnation in the water. Morin said if participants cannot stay “then we will walk down and honor those people that have died by suicide,” by dropping carnations for them.
“We are doing so much I don’t think people realize,” she said. “I want people in the area to know these services are available, I’m talking about workshops our next one is April 24,” with the monthly suicide prevention workshop starting at 6 p.m. at the JD Foundation office.
“We do a Community Connection Day one day a month, it’s really a place for people to come together and talk,” Morin said. She said participants can play games and hear from guest speakers.
“It’s basically what the folks who are here need or want,” she said. “We will get someone to come in for them.”
“The other thing we do is support groups for veterans, not specifically suicide it’s whatever support they need,” Morin said. “We do those once a month,” adding there are also virtual veteran family and caregivers suicide awareness trainings.”
“Then we do support groups for people who have lost loved ones to suicide,” she said. “We have a wonderful group of men and women, we hold it in East Corinth at the town hall twice monthly.”
Another session, tentatively titled “How our community can come together after a suicide,” is planned for 6 p.m. on Thursday, April 25 at the JD Foundation office to assist friends and family of those who have recently suffered a loss.
She said on Saturday, April 13 a children’s Easter egg hunt is planned at the playground in Guilford with 1,500 filled eggs. “I just thought we should do something fun out there in the area for children,” Morin said.
Morin lost her son William Jody Day — also known as Joe and his initials represent the JD in JD Foundation — to suicide on Nov. 18, 2005. For more information on the JD Foundation, please see the organization on Facebook or go to https://www.thejdfoundation.org/.