Before the birds starting singing their morning songs, the dew was visible on the autumn leaves and the sun pressed its last snooze button behind the Henry Mountains, the HOPE Squad of Carbon, Emery, and Grand Counties greeted the red sandstone dirt of the San Rafael desert in Goblin Valley State Park. Volunteers from Carbon Corridor, USU-Eastern, Carbon Medical Service, the CARE Coalition, American Foundation for Suicide Awareness and Links of Courage embraced the chilly, crisp air and waited for the physically-distanced and masked-up crowd.
Every September (National Suicide Prevention and Awareness Month,) the HOPE Squad hosts its annual “HOPE Walk.” Coronavirus stalled that planning for 2020 and by the time the Squad was given the “okay” by the Southeast Utah Health Department to proceed with the walk, it was too late to organize the traditional walk of remembrance. Instead, the Squad opted to create something even more memorable and on a much larger scale than ever before.
The “Hoo Doo You Run For?” 5k/10k Run or Walk for Suicide Awareness was born. You might have seen the promotional video produced by Buskin Production that starred Savannah Eley on social media. If you missed it, please be sure to check it out on the HOPE Squad of Carbon, Emery, and Grand Counties’ Facebook page or by visiting buskinproduction.com.
The “Hoo Doo You Run For?” 5k/10k Run or Walk for Suicide Awareness took place on Saturday, Nov. 7 in partnership with the Southeast Utah Health Department and the Carbon Corridor. As dawn broke, nearly 100 participants started their early day with a “Hoo Doo You Run For?” event shirt. The logo designs for the event were carefully crafted by Oran Stainbrook of r.ecollab. His design was then manipulated by TC West so that a special block of material could be added that allowed attendees to personalize who they were running for on their shirt.
Stainbrook’s logo design was also turned into a face gaiter that every attendee and volunteer received. They were made by the skilled artists at FutureInDesign. Emery County Events donated swag bags that were stuffed with donations from throughout the community. These items included a reusable water bottle, hand sanitizers, notepad and pens, a first aid kit, an ice pack, opioid literature, suicide prevention information (including a gun sock) snacks and stickers. Prior to the day of the event, attendees were encouraged to send a picture of their loved one lost to suicide to the HOPE Squad. Members then created a memory wall for all in attendance to see and pay their respects.
Debbie Marvidikis, the Health Promotions Director at the Southeast Utah Health Department and also the President of the HOPE Squad of Carbon, Emery, and Grand Counties, greeted everyone at 8 a.m. Eloquent as ever, Marvidikis reminded the attendees about the important work that still needs to be done in suicide awareness and how each and every person in attendance was an important voice in prevention. She was sure to give pertinent safety tips before the first group of 10k runners set off. They were followed by the 10k walkers, then the 5k runners and finally the 5k walkers.
When participants completed their respective race, the received a finisher medal and were invited to partake in the refreshments donated by Gold Meadow Dairy, Coca-Cola Swire, Wal-Mart, USU Eastern Dining Services and Castleview Hospital. Castleview Hospital also had an informational booth set up with an array of pamphlets of health-related information and Castleview Hospital masks.
Links of Courage had a table as well with Mr. W. Brandon Callor’s book “Life After Suicide: The Impact of Suicide on the Ones Left Behind.” In his book, he talks about the seven “C’s” related to grief. Please go to www.linksofcourage.com for more information.
Also at the event, AFSP had a display of their traditional honor beads. Honor beads tell a person’s connection to suicide, whether it be a loss of a loved one or personal struggle with mental health through colored beaded necklaces. You can find your honor bead color by going to www.afsp.org and searching “honor beads.”
The day started with perfect fall weather; however, it quickly turned into gusts of 50 MPH wind. This did not stop participants from hanging out for the keynote speaker, Ryan Stream. His message was short, but sweet; you are in control of your destiny. Everyone has the ability to rise above the life they have been born into and turn it into a vision of strength and success with tenacity and determination.
Stream is an Iraqi war veteran, a survivor of suicide loss, was adopted, is in recovery and is now a YouTube musical sensation, motivational speaker and so much more. He was raised in Emery County and witnessed firsthand the trials and tribulations that come with living in rural communities. Through all his struggles, Stream never gave up HOPE.
“Hoo Doo You Run For?” is more than a catchy phrase created to pay homage to the “hoodoos” on the Goblin Valley State Park floor; it’s a tribute and a lasting reminder of the squad’s mission. Its mission is to educate, promote and spread awareness for a healthier community with an emphasis on mental health, suicide prevention, support for suicide loss survivors, and to cultivate a stigma-free approach to seeking help. Together, with the partnerships, support and expertise of multiple agencies throughout the counties, our overall goal is to reduce the number of people who die by suicide.
The HOPE Squad of Carbon, Emery, and Grand Counties would like to take this opportunity to thank its many sponsors and donators that made this event safe, possible and successful. Mental health and suicide prevention are community health issues and these individuals/businesses are doing their part to end the stigma in all the ways that they can. The HOPE Squad of Carbon, Emery, and Grand Counties is extremely grateful for their charity, their time and their never-ending support; ALWAYS.
REMEMBER: If you or someone you know is struggling or in crisis, please don’t wait to reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK. Those who are struggling but not in crisis can reach out to the statewide Warm Line at 1-833-SPEAKUT. Students and parents can download the SAFE UT app for access to crisis services 24/7 or visit LiveOnUtah.org for support and resources.
American Foundation of Suicide Prevention
Bookcliff Sales, Inc.
Carbon County Auditor’s Office Carbon County Recreation
Carbon Medical Services
Castle Country Radio
Desert Rivers Credit Union
Elements Traverse, LLC
Elements Wilderness Program
Emery County Care & Rehabilitation Center
Emery County Events
Emery Medical Center
Four Corners Community Behavioral Health
Future in Design
“Friends of Marc Turcasso”
Gagon Family Medical
Gold Meadow Dairy
Green River Medical Center
Links of Courage
Market Express, Inc.
Mays Retirement Solutions
Oran Stainbrook/r.ecollab Pat Wilson Peczuh Printing
Pierce Oil Puzzle Pediatrics
Rocky Mountain Power
USU Eastern Dining Services
USU Eastern Sun Center
USU HEART Extension
Washington Federal Bank
Waste & Water Logistics