BRISTOL – American Legion Post 209 is holding a Walk-A-Thon Oct. 30 at Rockwell Park to raise awareness about suicide and domestic violence prevention. The event will also provide resources to those who may be struggling, and collect donations for St. Vincent DePaul Mission and the Prudence Crandall Center.
The Walk-A-Thon will be held from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., rain or shine, at Rockwell Park. Participants can register at the park entrance. Those who register are encouraged to walk as much as they like around the park. Representatives from St. Vincent DePaul Mission, a local homeless shelter, and the Prudence Crandall Center, a women’s shelter in New Britain, will provide life-saving information and speakers will share their stories.
Brian Avery, commander of American Legion Post 209, said that the inaugural Walk-A-Thon is intended to bring awareness of the face that suicide and domestic violence rates increase around this time of year and the holidays.
“We lose 22 combat veterans a day to suicide,” said Avery. “Suicide affects the entire family as well as the person’s friends and co-workers – anyone that knows them. It’s a cycle that must be broken.”
Avery added that the coronavirus and the resulting increase in job loss and unemployment have also resulted in an increase in suicide rates and domestic violence.
Those who have suffered from domestic violence, Avery said, experience feelings of isolation and depression which may lead to thoughts of suicide.
“Domestic violence is not acceptable in any form,” said Avery. “While the majority of those who suffer domestic abuse are women, it goes both ways. A large percentage of males who suffer from domestic abuse do not report it because they see it as shameful.”
Those who attend the Walk-A-Thon are asked to donate items including hoodies, sweatshirts, socks, single serve snacks, paper plates, laundry soap, coffee, powdered creamer and sugar. These items will be split evenly between St. Vincent DePaul Mission and the Prudence Crandall Center at the end of the Walk-A-Thon.
Avery said that he hopes that those who are struggling will come to the Walk-A-Thon to get the help they need to get out of their situation.
“People who commit suicide see it as their final answer,” said Avery. “They don’t think that there is any other way out. We want to show them that there are other solutions and different things that they can do.”
American Legion Post 209 has run a suicide awareness campaign in past years, but Avery said that this year he wanted to take things a step further with a Walk-A-Thon.
“We want to grow each year and we’re looking at doing a two-day event next year,” he said. “We chose Rockwell Park because, sometimes, when you’re stuck indoors, you feel confined. When you go out into nature, hear the birds, see the trees and feel the wind on your face, it is rejuvenating.”
Avery said his goal is to give hope to those who have no hope and to bring a light into the darkness.
“As someone who lives, works and plays in Bristol I feel it is my obligation to try to make it the best that it can be and to try to help everyone that I can,” he said. “You never know when one kind word can have a positive effect.”
Brian M. Johnson can be reached at 860-973-1806 or firstname.lastname@example.org.