SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Along with smiles and happy conversation, this group of walkers had a somber reason to hit the sidewalks: raising awareness about suicide.
“It’s so nice to be back in person this year. It’s that sense of community and comradery that just—being together is so important. And so I’m excited that we can do that this year,” Helpline Center CEO Janet Kittams said.
The hybrid event was held at the Raven Ampitheater in downtown Sioux Falls. Volunteers also broadcast the ceremony on Facebook Live.
“This event brings people together. Oftentimes they don’t have that support from one another because there’s still that stigma and people don’t talk about suicide as much as they should. And so this is a chance to come together and talk openly about it,” Kittams said.
And talk they did- about people they fondly remember.
“Alex was just the most outgoing guy I knew. He could talk to anybody at any time about anything,” Zach Nolz from Allies for Alex said.
“He definitely knew how to light up a room, that’s for sure,” James Kobold said.
“He’d help anyone. Great friend, great brother,” Kolby Dicus said.
Both sponsors and walking teams helped raise money.
“It helps support the suicide prevention efforts at the helpline center. We do a lot of prevention training, we also answer our crisis line, and in addition to that we provide support for family and friends that have lost loved ones to suicide,” Kittams said.
Kittams says that each year, the walk raises more than $60 thousand dollars for the helpline center.
“The more people that show up, the more people that are there to support,” Dicus said. “The more awareness that gets spread,” Kobold said.