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!

BlogForSuicideAwareness

That Light Mike Gave Us

Memories for Mike E.

Today is National Suicide Prevention Day! Samaritans 5K Team Captain, Heidi Stavris, shares the story of losing her friend, Mike, three years ago this month, and why she chooses organize Team Memories for Mike E. and raise awareness for suicide prevention.

I first met Mike Emanuel with his close friends, Chris and Peter, when I was in 7th grade. Through our after school hangouts, pool parties, trips to the mall and many movie nights, middle school was over too soon. In came high school with the dances, new schools, and new friends. It wasn’t until 11th grade when we all went separate ways and I lost contact with the guys. It took one random night when I was visiting my friend at Northeastern University when Mike and I literally walked into each other. From that point on, we bumped into each other at the most random times, without conversation or plans in between. The last run-in I had with Mike was in early July of 2010. We hung out just about every day, had dinner at different restaurants, saw a movie or two, picked out Halloween costumes together, and even planned to attend a Halloween fundraiser for a friend. Mike and I would laugh just about the whole time we were together. We were all grown up and there was nothing stopping our planned time together, so I thought. 

I had no idea what Mike was going through. Although he told me some things about his family and how he missed how close he and his friends used to be; he never gave me reason to doubt his happiness…until the day I got a phone call from a mutual friend of ours telling me he was no longer with us. 

After hearing this horrifically shocking news, my close friend, Tom, told me about a race he runs for his brother who he lost to suicide. As soon as he told me about the Samaritans 5K, I was Googling it. Once I registered, the Samaritans called me to check-in and hear my story – not realizing that my story began at 8:45pm, that very same night, on September 27, 2010. 

I have only been asked “why?” regarding my involvement with the Samaritans once…but my response honestly came from the bottom of my heart when I said, “I run to carry on the life and light that Mike gave us every time we were with him. It’s important to carry that on, and share with others how wonderful he was, how this guy could really walk into a room and demand happiness from everyone. And now that is what my team does because we carry on his torch together.” I have heard from the guys that he truly was “that guy” when they would all go on vacations together. He would help anyone out, make friends with everyone, and have the biggest smile on his face the entire time. If he knew we made such a big deal out of him these days, I think he would be a little embarrassed but we don’t care because this is how special he was to us… So incredibly special enough to raise awareness to help others who struggle, so that they don’t lose sight of their light.

Thank you, Heidi! To find our more about Samaritans, please visit www.samaritanshope.org. And to get involved with the Annual Samaritans 5K Run/Walk, to go www.Samaritans5K.org.

BlogForSuicideAwareness

In the Name of My Brother

Image

Second year 5K team captain, Kathy Ruggiero, shares the story of losing her brother, Chris.

When I was a 13-year old, 8th grader in Westchester County New York, my mom had another baby, my brother Christopher James.  Perhaps needless to say, this was both an embarrassment and a delight.   I was the eldest of six children – four boys and two girls – he the youngest.  Two book-ends in the six-pack.  But he was a tow-headed, adorable child and Chris quickly became everyone’s buddy and accompanied my siblings and me everywhere.   Despite our age difference we were always very close.  When I went away to college he cried as his only concept of “school” (where he heard I was going away to) was a local building that we went to during the day and he feared I would be forced to sleep on a cold, hard floor there!  He visited me a number of times at Boston College and easily won the hearts of my friends, including the man who would become my husband.

Chris had many friends – particularly girlfriends! – and seemed to glide through life.  He was a wonderful athlete, and extremely social.   Tragically, somewhere along the line he lost his way and in late September, in 2002, he took his own life.  And life for those he left behind – my mom, dad, brothers and sister, his adored cousins and extended family and many friends – would never be the same.

I started the team Chris Shea’s Smile and walked in the Samaritans 5k for the first time last year which marked – to the DAY – the 10-year anniversary of his death.   It was the day the world got a little bit darker for those that loved Chris Shea, but walking felt like the right thing to do. We were out there to honor Chris and support an organization that both assists the despondent and suicidal, preventing countless suicides each year, and also supports the other victims of suicide — those that are left behind to grieve and to forever ask “why?”

I’m participating in the Samaritans 5k this year to once again support Samaritans in the memory of my brother, who brought so much joy to those who loved him for the 31 years we had him, and whose smile and infectious spirit continue to motivate us, propel us forward and frequently make us pause to give thanks for another day.

So That Everyone’s Voice Is Heard

Samaritans 5K Team

“The Mayors of Allston”

New team, The Mayors of Allston, and their team captain, P.J. Lee, are excited to be participating in the 5K for the first time this fall. While they’re not suicide survivors, their team members understand the importance of Samaritans’ services in the community and hope to increase awareness about suicide prevention through their participation. Read more from P.J. directly about their reasons for running:

Samaritans has always been an organization that I have had a special place in my heart for. From first getting involved with them during my early high school years, to helping advertise Make Noise To Save a Life, to interning on the Samaritans marketing team my sophomore summer of college, to now taking it to the next level and running the Samaritans 5K, I am always exploring new ways to get involved with an organization that I consider family.

I have lost some friends and acquaintances to suicide, but I am very thankful that I have never lost a best friend or a family member. Although I have not been deeply affected directly, those I know that have been affected or even those that I do not but have heard their stories, I cannot help but feel overcome with emotion and the ultimate drive to do whatever I can within my power to help carry on Samaritans mission of making Boston a happier place for everyone.

My friends and I are running this 5K because we want to show our support for this amazing organization that works 24/7 to make sure that every voice is heard and to spread the message of their mission to make Greater Boston the happiest and healthiest place it can possibly be. 

Thank You!
The Mayors of Allston

Way to go, guys! And thank YOU for your support!

Why We Walk

Dosie’s Team is walking in celebration of the life of Greg “Dosie” Dosenberg. The world lost Greg on December 20, 2002 and ever since that date his family and friends have been dedicated to helping raise suicide awareness in our community. Greg’s sister and Team Captain, Sue Kelly, says that, “supporting Samaritans not only helps individuals in crisis, but the families of those individuals, helping us all know that we are not alone.” Click here to view the Dosie’s Team Homepage.

Please take a moment to watch the video – Why We Walk – produced by Dosie’s Team in 2012. Accompanied by the beautiful singing voice of Sue, read for yourself why Dosie’s Team chooses to return to the 5K year after year.