The 2014 Out of the Darkness Overnight Walks are now finished. How incredible it was to see 2,200 people on both coasts, first in Seattle June 14-15 and then in Philadelphia June 28-29, walk a combined 33+ miles for suicide prevention. This year’s Overnights saw the sun set on Puget Sound and rise again on Rocky’s famous steps at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. As AFSP’s largest single-event fundraiser, the Overnight Walk not only provides an emotionally powerful experience for those who make the 17-mile journey but also helps fund AFSP’s continued efforts to prevent suicide through research, advocacy, education, and survivor support. This year’s walks were no different and together raised more than $3.2 million dollars.
We brought the mission to raise awareness about suicide to both coasts, and we’re confident that our message was heard. Thank you to all of the walkers, volunteers and crew who made both events so incredibly successful. Your grassroots support is what makes our mission possible. Whether these were your first steps with us or you’ve been walking since that very first night in 2002, we hope you experienced the full healing power that is the Overnight experience.
In Seattle, at the opening ceremony, we heard Monica Magtoto speak about her friend, Matthew, who “was a night owl who loved to rollerblade through the hills of San Francisco and watch movies until dawn” and her own struggle to find her way out of the darkness. Then we heard the stories of nine amazing people, mothers and sons, sisters and wives, fathers and friends; people whose losses ranged from one year ago to over 30 years ago. Just as we started our journey, it began to rain. But the rain didn’t stop us. We kept going despite being wet and cold. And in the end when we had walked 17 miles, despite our exhaustion we gave Taryn Aiken, who told her story of addiction, depression and losing her father, a standing ovation.
In Philadelphia, we heard Dr. Arthur Evans read a proclamation by the Mayor of Philadelphia declaring June 28, 2014 to be Out of the Darkness Overnight to Prevent Suicide Day and Dr. Mike Cirigliano, Associate Professor of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and a medical correspondent for Fox 29 Philadelphia News, kick off the ceremony. Then we heard Brian Yeh speak about losing his mother, who “loved pistachio ice cream, John Travolta, and two cups of black coffee every morning.” We heard Craig Robinson, a former contestant on The Bachelorette speak about losing his friend, Gia, a former Bachelor contestant, and share the stories of eight incredible people, veterans and aunts, sons and fathers, sisters and boyfriends, who represented our diverse connections to this cause. Then we walked through the City of Brotherly Love and just when we thought we couldn’t keep going, that Finding the Light Within mural between mile 14 and mile 15 pushed us forward. At the finish line, we found the Rocky Steps covered in twinkling luminaria.
We would like to give a big thank you to our sponsors Sunovion and Providence Health and to our Washington State and Greater PhiladelphiaChapters!
Please take a moment to view the wonderfully powerful pictures on Flickr and to share your experiences on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
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