Over A Thousand Walk For A Cause

By Nick Perreault

July 30, 2011 Updated Jul 30, 2011 at 10:47 PM CDT

Suicide is the third leading cause of death in individuals from ages 15-24 years of age, according to Mental Health Association of Illinois. Nick Perreault introduces us to an annual event that is spreading the message that help is out there.

"Whitney's Walk started in 2004, with the death by suicide of Whitney Grotts. Her family established the event in her honor and we are just amazed at the number of people who have participated," said Development Coordinator Jamie Sanders.

Over the past eight years, Whitney's Walk has raised over a $500,000 for local programs related to suicide and depression. In 2011 the event had its biggest turnout ever.

"I think it's wonderful today that we have 1,100 people participating in Whitney's Walk, but at the same time it's so sad, because the majority of the people here have lost a family member or friend do to suicide," said Trivoli resident Mick Threw.

Organizers and participants say that Whitney's Walk serves a dual purpose event; both issuing information about depression and suicide and also serves as a healing process for many families.

"It reduces the stigma of suicide so that these families are not afraid to talk about this and to talk about their hurt and begin to heal," Sanders said.

And one of those families is the Threws'.
In 2004, Mick and his wife Debbie lost their 19 year old son Brady.

"Caught us completely off guard with our son, as it does in most cases with suicide," Threw said.

"So the only advice is watch for the signs of depression within your friends and family to insure this doesn't happen in the future."

And the Threw Family created their own event this year, LIFEFEST, in memory of their son which raised over $7,000 for Whitney Walk's Organization.

The Threw's encourage families to participate with organizations such as Whitney's Walk. They say it will help families cope with the loss of a loved one and also remind them that they can serve as a vital lifeline to someone else who may be suffering from suicide.

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