Dodge County Fairgrounds will be hosting the annual Out of the Darkness Dodge County Experience on Saturday, October 3. Like most activities this year, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s (AFSP) annual event will look different this year. However, organizers are confident that the event will still bring awareness in a unique way, unite the local community and support those who have struggled and lost love ones.

The live event will occur from 9 am until noon, as more of a supportive, gathering place in Beaver Dam, with a virtual walk and movement to be completed on each registered participant’s own schedule.

Approximately half of this year’s fundraising goal has already been raised. However, there are still several weeks remaining, for the community to help contribute to this year’s $10,000 goal. The 2019 event raised more than $21 million to bring awareness and resources available for suicide prevention. All funds from this event will directly benefit the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

Participants may register online for the virtual walk or join an existing team, to help AFSP meet their fundraising goal. Consider reaching out to friends or family members who would benefit from movement in their day and this positive and encouraging atmosphere. You may also gather with your teams, family and friends on your own and walk together. Participants are encouraged to upload team photos to the Out of the Darkness Walks Facebook Page.  Cash, check and credit card donations will also be available at the Fairgrounds on October 3.

If you are unable to attend, but would like to donate, you may make a donation in any amount online. Every donation helps bring awareness to suicide, the tenth leading cause of death in the United States.

Suicide is listed as the second leading cause of death for young individuals ages 10 years to 34. Events like this one not only help educate the community and bring awareness. But fundraising efforts also help support families effected, provide research opportunities, and support mental health legislation. AFSP has established chapters in all fifty states to support these initiatives, with more than 500 similar events hosted around the country.

Attendees are encouraged to stop by the Dodge County Resource Fair, receive their free honor beads, partake in a unique photo opportunity, and support each other. Event t-shirts will be available to individuals who raise $150 or more.

A live, virtual ceremony will take place on October 25, to honor those lives who have been lost to suicide. The ceremony will feature photos and uploaded images from each of the 2020 events in Wisconsin. The ceremony will also be available on Facebook.

AFSP and Church Health Services is closely monitoring the local and CDC social distancing guidelines. They promise to bring attendees, families and fundraisers the most positive, healing experience possible, with all guidelines in place at the Dodge County Fairgrounds. For more information, or to volunteer, please contact Karen Sempf by email at [email protected] or by phone at 262-374-0347.

by Jamie Adcock author of and