On June 4, over 2,000 people gathered at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum in New York City for the second Out of the Darkness Overnight Walk of 2016.
As the rain started to fall, the event kicked off with stretching exercises led by renowned dancer Kim Holmes, followed by opening remarks from AFSP CEO Robert Gebbia, who spoke rousingly about how walkers will make possible the attainment of AFSP’s goal of reducing the suicide rate 20 percent by 2025, and our unified quest to create a world without suicide.
Ray Burke, joined by his wife, Mary Anne, then took to the stage to
share the story of losing their son, Matthew. The Burkes’ story was particularly poignant told at the Intrepid, as the couple met while serving in the Navy, and Matthew was in the navy when he died by suicide in November of 2001. The Burkes have walked in every single Overnight that has ever taken place, and have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars through the event.
“Grief is a price you pay for love,” Ray told the crowd, as many nodded in agreement.
After the Burkes’ story, mental health speaker and advocate Hakeem Rahim narrated the honor bead ceremony. Hakeem introduced nine walkers, each representing a different connection to the cause, including a Gulf War veteran celebrating six months of sobriety; a man walking in memory of his mother and father, both lost to suicide; and two different participants walking their tenth Overnight.
After the honor bead ceremony, and despite the downpour of rain, our dedicated walkers took to the streets of New York City. Creating bonds and sharing stories throughout the night, walkers gazed out at the Hudson River. The rain stopped as our walkers reached the first rest stop, passed through World Trade Center Plaza, and crossed the Brooklyn Bridge. Walking along Brooklyn promenade where they enjoyed views of Manhattan’s skyline, they approached midnight snack. After eating and resting in Cadman Park went back into Manhattan to go past Bryant Park, and crossed through Times Square.
At the end of the night, walkers returned to the Intrepid, where CEO Robert Gebbia announced that the NYC Overnight had raised $2.6 million. Walker Anjoli Rodriguez then told her story of survival and triumph over borderline personality disorder.
“I wake up, and the sun shines in, and I choose life. I choose to live,” Anjoli said, as many exhausted but inspired walkers were united in applause and affirmation of her story.
We wish to thank our Premier Sponsor, Sunovian Pharmaceuticals, and every walker, volunteer, crew member and donor at our 2016 New York City Overnight Walk. We hope you will join us again in 2017!
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