Drop-in to walk Out of the Darkness

Staff reports
The Chronicle Express

The Yates/FLX Out of the Darkness Experience will be held at 1 p.m., Oct. 4 at Keuka Lake State Park. This year’s experience will be hosted online as well as in-person, with staggered walk times to ensure proper physical distance. Participants can safely take part in a virtual honor bead ceremony and self-guided spaces for reflection. The experience is hosted by the Western New York chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) and supports AFSP’s education and support programs, and its bold goal to reduce the annual U.S. rate of suicide 20 percent by the year 2025.

While Out of the Darkness won’t be walking as a whole group, they encourage smaller groups to walk Oct. 4 on their terms by choosing your own course, and who walks next to you (within safe distancing guidelines). 

“The walking is real—it’s the community that’s virtual this year. Feel free to walk around Keuka Lake State Park and enjoy the natural beauty of the Finger Lakes!” say Yates County Co-Chairs Denise Slocum and Beth Habberfield.

“Suicide touches one in five American families,” said Natalee Carroll, co-chair of the Finger Lakes Out of the Darkness Walk committee. “We hope that by walking we will draw attention to this issue and keep other families from experiencing a suicide loss. Our ultimate goal is to save lives and bring hope to those affected by suicide.”

The normal Out of the Darkness walk like last years isn’t possible in 2020, so organizers have created a new model for the fund and awareness raising event.

How to Participate

This will be an in-person, drop-by experience to stop by Keuka Lake State Park to pick up your team’s goodies, connect with the event committee, and participate in some self-guided stations, all following state and local guidelines.

Leashed, friendly dogs are invited to join our walk as part of Paws for Prevention! Celebrate our canine caregivers and honor all they do to be great companions for us. For a $10 donation to AFSP, your pup will receive a branded bandanna. Visit the Paws table the day of the Yates County walk, or pre-register by emailing Denise at gcs3318@yahoo.com. Please be prepared to show proof of rabies vaccination.

Roll Call

The organizers need to know how many coalition members/supporters plan to attend the event on Oct. 4. We will be at the picnic shelter. Tell the park attendant that you’re there for the OOTD Experience and your vehicle fee will be waived. Participants must pre-register online at www.afsp.org/YatesCo. in order to stop by. Masks and distancing are required.

The Yates/FLX Out of the Darkness experience is one of more than 550 Out of the Darkness Overnight, Community, and Campus Experiences being held nationwide this year. The walks are expected to unite more than 300,000 walkers and raise millions for suicide prevention efforts. Last year, the Yates County and Finger Lakes walks raised over $60,000 combined with a total of more than 700 participants.

To become a sponsor or register to participate in the Yates/FLX Out of the Darkness Experience, visit www.afsp.org/YatesCo. So far, $13,935 has been raised toward the local goal of $20,000.

“Thank you all for all that you do, and can’t wait to ‘see’ you at Keuka Lake State Park next Sunday!” say Slocum and Habberfield.