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Out of the Darkness walk in Virginia Beach makes strides for awareness of depression, suicide

Jamie Runyon, 38, of Norfolk adjusts an image and note for her brother, Paul Bonnell, who took his own life four days before his 33rd birthday in 2014. [John-Henry Doucette/The Princess Anne Independent News]

Jamie Runyon, 38, of Norfolk adjusts an image and note for her brother, Paul Bonnell, who took his own life four days before his 33rd birthday in 2014. [John-Henry Doucette/The Princess Anne Independent News]

BY JOHN-HENRY DOUCETTE

MOUNT TRASHMORE — Before the walk began, Tasha Frederick of Sandbridge tied a ribbon into the hair of 9-year-old Laney Frederick. They were there to raise awareness and remember someone lost to suicide during Out of the Darkness Community Walk on Saturday, Sept. 10.

“My brother,” Tasha Frederick said.

“My son,” Carol Ann Wheeler added.

“Her uncle,” Tasha Frederick said of Laney.

Thousands of people came to the walk, the 11th sponsored by the Hampton Roads Survivors of Suicide Support Group to raise awareness about suicide and depression. The group is led by Chris Gilchrist, its founder and facilitator. 

“When we’re talking about suicide,” she said during her remarks, “we’re also often talking about depression. … This walk is for anyone touched by depression or touched by suicide.”

Wheeler, of Lago Mar, the Fredericks and their family lost David W. Thomas Jr., who lived in Malibu. It is their third year walking.

“It raises awareness to how many people,” Wheeler said. “You’re definitely not alone.”

Ribbons have meaning. Silver is for awareness. White for remembrance of someone lost to suicide. Gold is extended family. Purple means the loss of a child. Red means a parent.

Mayor Will Sessoms, who lost a friend in 2009, spoke during the event about suicide and depression, which touch many lives. He called a “a public health issue that does not discriminate.” Not for age, gender, race, any such thing.

Denny Chalk of Currituck County, N.C., was there with many people. They wore colorful shirts with a design of a yellow ribbon shaped into a heart. The shirts said “Team Tighe” for Tighe Chalk, Denny and Nikki Chalk’s son, the brother of Julianna Chalk. Tighe Chalk was 18 when he died in March.

“This brings awareness,” his father said.

As the walk around the park path began, Keith and Robin Legg waited with their grandson, Kaedon Howley, 9. Howley had a red ribbon. The Leggs wore purple ones. 

“It was his mother,” Robin Legg said. “My daughter.” Robin Legg and Kaedon Howley wore “Whitney’s Warriors” shirts for Whitney Edwards of Chesapeake, who was 28 when she died in 2013.

 “This is my fourth,” Robin Legg said. “More people need to talk about it and get it out in the open.”

It was hard for Kaedon Howley to say why he walked.

“You do it for Mom, right?” Robin Legg said.

“Yeah,” he agreed.

Keith Legg was at the walk for the first time.

“It’s just taken me a little while,” he said.

Keith Legg recently started a business he hopes will also raise money for awareness. He’s called it Hubcaps Driving Academy.

Hubcaps is a nickname.

“That’s what we called Whitney,” he said. “All of her cars only had one hubcap.”

Kaedon Howley has already asked to redesign the shirts for next year’s walk.

He’s not sure what the design will be, but he wants something special for Whitney’s Warriors to wear.

“I just think they could be better,” he said.

Tasha Frederick of Sandbridge ties a ribbon into the hair of Laney Frederick, 9. Ribbons of different colors raise awareness or are a remembrance of someone lost. [John-Henry Doucette/The Princess Anne Independent News]

Tasha Frederick of Sandbridge ties a ribbon into the hair of Laney Frederick, 9. Ribbons of different colors raise awareness or are a remembrance of someone lost. [John-Henry Doucette/The Princess Anne Independent News]

Keith and Robin Legg walk with their grandson, Kaedon Howley, in memory of Whitney Edwards. [John-Henry Doucette/The Princess Anne Independent News]

Keith and Robin Legg walk with their grandson, Kaedon Howley, in memory of Whitney Edwards. [John-Henry Doucette/The Princess Anne Independent News]

Denny Chalk, center, holds his cap over his heart during the National Anthem amid a ceremony before the walk. Team Tighe remembers Chalk’s son, Tighe Chalk, who was 18 when he died this year. [John-Henry Doucette/The Princess Anne Independent News]

Denny Chalk, center, holds his cap over his heart during the National Anthem amid a ceremony before the walk. Team Tighe remembers Chalk’s son, Tighe Chalk, who was 18 when he died this year. [John-Henry Doucette/The Princess Anne Independent News]

Bruno “Gypsy” DoAmoral of the Tidewater chapter of the V-Twin Cruisers Motorcycle Club wears a yellow ribbon to remember a friend, Nick Garza of Texas. [John-Henry Doucette/The Princess Anne Independent News]

Bruno “Gypsy” DoAmoral of the Tidewater chapter of the V-Twin Cruisers Motorcycle Club wears a yellow ribbon to remember a friend, Nick Garza of Texas. [John-Henry Doucette/The Princess Anne Independent News]

A detail of a banner showing messages to loved ones during the Out of the Darkness Community Walk at Mount Trashmore in 2016. [John-Henry Doucette/The Princess Anne Independent News]

A detail of a banner showing messages to loved ones during the Out of the Darkness Community Walk at Mount Trashmore in 2016. [John-Henry Doucette/The Princess Anne Independent News]


© 2016 Pungo Publishing Co., LLC

The Independent News

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