“This is a beautiful day and you belong in it,” said Reverend Dawn Blendell on Saturday at the annual Walk in Memory, Walk for Hope event in Laura Mills Park.
September is National Suicide Prevention & Awareness Month and the Churchill Community Coalition, New Frontier Treatment Center, Nevada Coalition for Suicide Prevention and other local organizations teamed up to create the meaningful and inspiring event that drew about 75 attendees.
Blendell joined the Epworth United Methodist Church in July and spoke during the event’s ceremony.
The morning’s activities and socializing were focused on providing community and resources for suicide prevention, intervention and post-vention — and community walks have been happening state- and nationwide this month.
The event also took a lighter tone with this year offering a SPAM cook-off; attendees provided taste testing and voted on their favorites. The contest was done since the canned meat brand’s spelling provides the same initials as Suicide Prevention & Awareness Month.
First place went to the Churchill County Sheriff’s Office/Sheriff Ben Trotter and family, second to the team at Manpower and third to Pizza Barn. Also, “best decorated/theme” was awarded to Churchill Community Coalition/“Mindfulness” by Marybeth Chamberlain and Kadie Zeller.
Organizers also unveiled a new monument at the park supported by the city of Fallon and Mayor Ken Tedford as well as the Churchill Arts Council. The monument shares the month’s awareness ribbon and the message: “This ribbon is a lifeline! It carries a message that there are those who care and can help. If you are in need please call 1-800-273-8255 or TEXT ‘listen to 839863.’ We will get you through it!”
Churchill Community Coalition Executive Director Andrea Zeller said they are aiming to place ribbons in windows along with resource information as well as focus on businesses in high-traffic areas.
“I don’t sleep at night because of this stuff,” she said.
Family members, friends, individuals, children and dogs made comfortable loops on the park path lined with signs sharing resources, statistics and encouraging messages. (Four laps equal one mile and 14 a 5K.)
“What we’re doing today more than anything else is celebrating life,” Blendell said, adding she has been beside those and the loved ones of those “who gave up hope and left this world.”
The reverend said she has seen the stunned, confused, broken, angry emotions and the crushingly difficult situation. When it’s personal, numbers don’t matter; one is too many. But she added she has seen the beauty in life as well including its joys and wonder.
“People are amazing,” she said. “Not one person is close to being perfect. Let’s all be stupid, goofy and broken together.”
Blendell said holding a door for someone or simply smiling can change the course of someone’s day, even life. She encouraged everyone to be kinder than necessary.
“Because everyone is fighting some kind of battle,” she said, adding “you can feel better; you can enjoy life again.”
Blendell shared how depression is real, not in someone’s head, uncontrollable or someone’s fault. She encouraged those suffering or struggling to talk to someone and try to believe what goodness they hear.
The event also included a chance to write letters and have a burning ceremony.
For more information, visit www.FallonCommunityResources.com and www.NVSuicidePrevention.org. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255) is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.