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‘Hannah’s Lights’ walk in memory of Del Oro freshman

Charitable event raises suicide awareness
By: Jon Schultz, Journal Staff Writer
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Karen Brown organized T-shirts, wrist bands and other materials on Monday at her Auburn home, preparing for the Out of the Darkness walk – just another way family and friends of the late Hannah Olson are hoping to raise awareness for their cause.

The shirts are tie-dyed purple, the favorite color of Hannah, a Del Oro High School freshman who committed suicide in January at 14 years old. Brown, Olson’s step mother, had 27 of the shirts made, but she said that won’t be enough. Support from the community has been overwhelming all along, she said.

“If we can get just that one child, one family, we have done something,” said Brown, Olson’s step mother.

Their team for the walk is called “Hannah’s Lights,” and they have raised around $800 so far. The walk is put on by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and, as of Monday evening, had 660 registered participants and $14,337 in donations -- $663 short of its goal.

The two-hour event begins 6 p.m. Thursday at the front lawn of The Well on Sacramento State’s campus. On-site registration is available the day of the walk, and donations are accepted until June 30. For more information, visit campuswalks.org.

“We’re just hoping to raise some money for suicide prevention and awareness and walking in memory of Hannah,” Brown said. “For Hannah, we are not sure about some of her other issues – we’ll never know – but we do know there are things children in the community and people in general can change about their environment, especially if they are depressed.”

Olson’s family has handed out around 700 purple wrist bands that say “Hannah’s Pledge” “BE KIND to Yourself and Others.” They also have accompanying cards with the pledge that features a message pleading for people to think about their actions and their environment and whether or not they are conducive to kindness, or, on the contrary, promoting negativity.

“We have been really overwhelmed with how wonderfully everyone has supported us in this terrible time, and with this project, it has just helped us feel better knowing we can make something positive from Hannah’s death,” Brown said.

It opened a dialogue in the community about suicide and mental wellness, Brown said, and in some cases it has led to people getting the help they need.

“Hannah being 14 years old, it makes people stop and listen,” she said. “And we’ve had some really great responses from parents who have said that now they’ve seen this, or heard about this, that they are recognizing patterns in their own children that have caused them to take action.”

 

Jon Schultz can be reached at jons@goldcountrymedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @Jon_AJNews