Organization raises awareness for suicide with 5K run

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WATERLOO, Iowa (KCRG-TV9) – According to the American Foundation for Suicides Prevention, on average there are more than 100 suicides per day in the United States.

Alive and Running is an organization providing help to families who have faced suicide as well as encouraging others to get involved in prevention. One eastern Iowa family said the organization helped them tremendously when they lost their daughter in 2013.

Kayla Decker is remembered as an energetic, bubbly, 21-year-old with a passion for cheerleading. Her family said at the time they didn’t believe anything was wrong.

“Looking back there were signs, but we did not recognize them. Mainly because we were not educated about what the signs of depression were,” Kayla’s mother Lindie Decker said. “If I would have known then, what I know now. I think we would have been able to give Kayla more help.”

The organization provides pamphlets and resources to keep people aware of the signs. Founders Troy Belmer and Ryan Nesbit started Alive and Running in 2010 after they lost a friend to suicide in high school. They wanted to start something to help them and others cope.

“We need to reach out to people,” Belmer said.

The race started as a one day, 5K run with a little more than 400 guests. Over the past six years it has grown to a 2 day event with thousands in attendances from more than 13 states. All of the proceeds go toward the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s Iowa Chapter.

Belmer said it’s a time for people to open up about a difficult topic.
“It’s just a really difficult subject for people to talk about, but to bring people together and let them know there’s a whole group of people over a thousand that are experiencing the same thing is pretty neat,” Belmer said. “If you look at events like breast cancer, Alzheimer’s, people are very open to talk. When it comes to suicide, nobody wants to talk about it. We just think it’s important for everyone to have a place to find comfort a place to feel warm.”

He also encourages participants to bring a friend.

“I always encourage people if you’ve been to our event before and you’re coming back again, grab somebody else because you never know when that persons hurting. If our friend falls and you see he has a broken leg, we can easily see that and take them to the doctor, you can’t see that with depression,” Belmer said. “You never know if I invite a friend, they might be hurting more than anybody. We also need to look out and invite people.”

Decker wants people to remember Alive and Running Is for everyone, and urges people to know the signs.

“They best way to help your child is to just be there for them,” Decker said.

The Alive and Running 5K and sky lantern release will be held in Dunkerton June 17 and 18.  Registration ends for the walk on June 4.