Having a close family member or a friend commit suicide is almost indescribable. The questions and guilt that haunts your thoughts is unbearable. What did we miss? Why? Did she know how much she was loved? Suicide affects so many people-not just the child's family, but friends, teachers, community members...it starts a ripple effect.
Although suicide is incredibly difficult to discuss, it needs to be talked about. Our goal, as a family, by doing this run is to bring awareness to a very real problem. There have been 5 more teen suicides in the valley since October. The money raised will be placed into an account for the Philomath School District. It's sole purpose will be to provide families a financial support if their children are in need of counseling. Counseling is expensive. Even if you have insurance, sometimes it is hard to find a counselor available that takes your insurance and the copays can be outrageous. As a family, do not want any child to go without help if they need it.
The message my family would desperately like to have heard is HOPE. We are Christians. Lilly also was a Christian. And though we are not promised a life without trials, we are promised that God will be right beside us through all of them. I will only speak for myself-I have never felt the power of God more clearly than I have the last six months. There has truly been a sense of grace given to us in our darkest hours, and a sense of hope has grown with the planning of this and future runs. I, personally, would love to see the other towns nearby put on their own runs next year, and raise money for their school districts.
Lilly was an amazing artist, even teaching 6th graders art while she was a freshman. The intense beauty in the sunrises I have seen since her death have brought me joy. She is painting in heaven, I am sure of it. Lilly would be so proud to see that her life didn't end on that October day but that instead we are turning a tragedy into something more. We want to bring hope to others.