RIO GRANDE, Ohio — The sixth annual Out of Darkness Walk is expanding to include Hope Fest on April 23.
The all-day event will be on The University of Rio Grande’s main campus and encourages community members, organizations and anyone interested to attend.
The event is intended to raise awareness for suicide prevention. In 2020, there were 45,979 suicides reported across the nation, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
It is the “second leading cause of death among people ages 15-24,” the Hope Fest webpage stated.
The event, once just the Out of Darkness Walk, has expanded to Hope Fest to include a full day of events and activities to help spread hope.
“We’re going to be bringing awareness to all out campuses and communities with a full day of HOPE,” the event’s webpage stated. “All month long, we encourage you to sponsor a luminary in honor of someone lost to suicide, someone struggling with mental health or [to] show support for mental health awareness.”
The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention sponsors the Out of Darkness Walk.
“The Out of the Darkness Campus Walks are the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s (AFSP) signature student fundraising series, designed to engage youth and young adults in the fight to prevent suicide, the second leading cause of death among people ages 15-24,” the website stated.
The day will start with an inaugural Hope Fest 5k Run/Walk at 2 p.m in the Lyne Center parking lot.
At 3 p.m. join others to “Hike for Hope” at the Gatewood Trail System and learn some local history. All levels of hikers are welcome.
A variety of vendors and a food truck will be in the Lyne Center parking lot from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Everyone is encouraged to attend a free 30-minute session of yoga with Dr. Kristin Chamberlain at 4 p.m.
Registration for the Out of Darkness Walk will begin at 4 p.m., with the walk beginning at 6 p.m.
The walk is a 5k that goes throughout the University of Rio Grande campus.
Organizers are encouraging people to gather a team or join an existing team and help raise funds through sponsorships.
Hope Fest will end by lighting up a field with luminaries. Money raised from the sale of luminaries will go to support mental health for students at the University of Rio Grande.
Organizers are taking sponsorships for the luminaries to be placed across the University of Rio Grande’s rugby field that evening. They are $1 each and can be purchased online. This year’s goal is to have 10,000 luminaries sponsored, according to Crystal Miller, Zero Suicide Transition coordinator.
The day will also include music, food, kid’s story corner and other activities for the community.
The entire day is free, except for the 5k which will benefit the Ohio Chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
For more information, to purchase a shirt or luminary, register and more visit www.rio.edu/hope-fest.
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Brittany Hively is a staff writer for Ohio Valley Publishing. Follow her on Twitter @britthively; reach her at (740) 446-2342 ext 2555.