Generosity Overwhelms INAL Founder…and me!

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With just our second Red Hammer Benefit Run you raised the bar with your generosity!

We hit the $250 mark for I Need A Lighthouse, Inc., an organization whose purpose has taken on new meaning to myself and my family in recent months.

INAL was founded to raise awareness of teen and young adult depression and suicide. They go into schools and churches to speak about depression and suicide, teach teens and adults the signs to look for in a depressed and/or suicidal teen, and how to get help!

Kathleen Wakefield, founder of INAL, was swamped putting the final touches on Saturday’s Beacon of Hope 5K, but she took the time out to thank us so much for our support. She was completely overwhelmed.

“Thank you so much for what your runners did for us,” Wakefield said. “Every bit helps us so much.”

Wakefield founded INAL after her 21-year-old son Jake committed suicide in July 2001.

“I knew within three days that I was going to put together this organization,” she said.  As a prevention organization they don’t receive a lot of feedback about how much they help, but Wakefield does get the occasional email saying thank you, or that they learned a lot hearing her speak and know how to ask for help now.

And that is what she works tirelessly for.

“Depression is treatable, suicide is not” is the mantra that flows throughout INAL website.

My cousin, Chase Wood, took his own life in March. He would have turned 21 next week. In the days and weeks since I’ve thought a lot about the stigma attached to seeking help for depression, the prevalent attitude that you should just be able to get over it, you have to be tough enough to handle it on your own, seeking help is seen as weak. Yet in every other time of illness or crisis, seeking help, talking about it, finding a source of strength in a friend, family member, doctor is encouraged.

Depression is a disease, a disease that is treatable, suicide is not.

My uncle, Ray, like Wakefield, hopes that Chase’s death is not in vain, that people pay attention, reach out, understand that depression is a disease and asking for help is not only OK, it is the right thing to do.

In the words of my uncle, “Please do not let this be in vain. We must all do our best to increase awareness of this horrible disease…and pay close attention to our friends and relatives when we know they are in a difficult situation. Act on the slightest chance that they may be weakening…be wrong…just don’t be late.”

I am so grateful to everyone who contributed to this RHBR to help INAL continue it’s efforts to raise awareness and keep people talking about this disease. Please take some time to check out I Need A I guarantee you someone who you know is struggling with depression or has a family member struggling and you aren’t aware of it. Become the person they feel safe turning to…become that lighthouse!

If you are looking for a race to do this weekend – it’s always a good day for a 5K! – The Beacon of Hope 5K is Sunday at the boardwalk.