'Out of the Darkness Community Walk' raises more than $25,000 for suicide awarenss

| 15 Feb 2012 | 09:56

Warwick — On Sunday, Oct. 23, approximately 280 participants returned to Warwick Valley High School to walk in the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s “Out of the Darkness Community Walk” for Orange County. “We walked again in loving memory of our son Daniel,” said Warwick resident Judy Battista. “And I appreciate all the support that people gave for this worthwhile cause.” Judy and Rocco Battista joined thousands of people nationwide that day who were walking in memory of their loved ones lost by suicide, or those affected by suicide. Battista’s team, “TIST4LIFE, the top fund raiser among dozens of other local teams, raised $2,600. Proceeds from the walks are used to help support the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, the leading national not-for-profit organization exclusively dedicated to understanding and preventing suicide through research, education and advocacy. The organization also reaches out to people with mental disorders and families impacted by suicide. Those who participated in the second “Out of the Darkness Community Walk” held in Warwick raised more than $25,000 and still counting, exceeding the original goal and representing an increase of $7,000 over last year’s final tally ShopRite, Price Chopper, Pennings Orchard and other local business donated food and refreshments. High School students under the direction of Dr. Raymond Bryant, superintendent of the Warwick Valley School District, served as volunteers. The event began that morning with a luminary walk at sunrise followed by a ceremony that included special songs in memory of loved ones and the releasing of doves. After Pastor Bruce Bernard of the Warwick Valley Church of the Nazarene gave the invocation, American Foundation for Suicide Prevention Board Member Sean Gerow welcomed everyone and introduced the guest speaker, Darcie Miller, deputy commissioner of Mental Health for Orange County. During the event the teams symbolically walked about three miles around the area. The ceremony closed with a reading by Battista and her husband Rocco of the names of local people who died by suicide, followed by a balloon release. “Reading these names always chokes me up,” said Battista. “It’s a most powerful moment as I read each name because each one is a life that was lost, a loved one missed. But what an impact they have made and will continue to make to save others.” The next prevention event, National Survivors of Suicide Day, for those who lost someone to suicide, will be held at the Galleria Mall Community Room in Middletown on Saturday, Nov. 19, at 12:30 p.m. For information e-mail Judy Battista at survivoroutreach@ymail or visit www.Tista4life.com. Sponsors Sponsors of the “Out of the Darkness Community Walk” for Orange County included: Bon Secours Health System, INC Raymond Bryant Gerow Family S.M. Isaacson Jennifer Karon Photography George LaPace Orange Regional Medical Center PMD Foundation Smith, Seaman & Quackenbush, Inc. Wadeson’s Home Center, Inc. Warwick Valley Central School District Warwick Valley Coalition Warwick General Rental WVT Communications