Celebrating My Brother

Samaritans 5K

5K Team Captain, Lauren Gablinske, has organized Derek’s Team in memory of her brother, Derek, who took his life on November 28, 2011.

I’ll never forget sitting at my kitchen table on Thanksgiving day two years ago.  I found myself reflecting upon how fortunate I was to have a happy healthy family to celebrate the holiday with. I remember thinking how lucky I was to not have suffered a significant loss of someone near and dear to me.  Little did I know that four days later, at the age of 29, my brother would take his own life. Since then, I have known others within my extended family and friends to also take their lives.

My brother Derek was someone you couldn’t be around for more than five minutes without crying from laughing so hard. He was the person you turned to when you were having a bad day to make you feel better. He was the one all my friends had crushes on growing up. He had the brains, loyalty, humor, and good looks to accomplish anything he wanted in life. He had everything to live for.

Looking back now, I can see what may have been warning signs leading up to his death. This is what brought me to the Samaritans. The Samaritans, to me, represents the hope that someday no family will have to go through what we have been through. It represents a place filled with people that are dedicated to helping others see through the darkness and fight through the pain.

This will be the first year I run the 5K. 

My goal in participating in this 5K is to raise awareness for something I feel needs to be brought to light. As I navigate through the healing process it’s important for me to find ways to help others who may be feeling what Derek felt. It is to let them know they are not alone, there are people who understand how they feel, and there are people who want to help. With this first 5K, my hope is that I am able to do my part to raise awareness of suicide and mental illness while at the same time celebrating the amazing person my brother was. I hope this is the first of many 5Ks I participate in with the Samaritans.

It’s not too late to sign up for the Samaritans 5K Run/Walk. Please visit www.samaritans5K.org.


Big-Hearted People

Volunteering, Samaritans 5K

Samaritans 5K and Grief Support Services volunteer, Dan Fields, shares what it’s like to donate his time and talents to the 5K each year and the profound impact that it has on him.

I’ve been a volunteer at the Samaritans 5K Run/Walk since 2010, and I’m looking forward to this year’s event. It is particularly inspiring to see the dozens of teams, many of which were formed to honor a loved one lost to suicide. A person’s name or face might appear on the T-shirts of 50 or more people—an amazing testament of love for someone who might not have realized how many lives he or she touched. These walkers or runners have transformed their own grief into a desire to help others in distress, by raising funds for the helplines and other services that Samaritans offers free of charge. What a display of resilience and compassion.

The event is also a lot of fun. There’s plenty of clapping and cheering at the starting and finish lines. Some walkers push strollers or are joined by dogs wearing bandannas. Kids (and adults) can get their faces painted. There’s a stage with live music. And my fellow volunteers are some of the nicest, biggest-hearted people I’ve ever met.

So if you are considering being a volunteer at this year’s event, I encourage you to do so. You won’t regret it. To me, the Samaritans 5K Run/Walk is a deeply life-affirming event.

You too can make a difference. If you’d like to join Dan in volunteering for the Samaritans 5K this year, please contact 5K@samaritanshope.org. Thank you!