Orange County suicide awareness walk raises more than $18,000

| 22 Feb 2012 | 02:27

Warwick - On Oct. 24, a large number of participants came 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 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, one of dozens of other local teams, was called “TIST4LIFE” The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) is the leading national not-for-profit organization exclusively dedicated to understanding and preventing suicide through research, education and advocacy, and to reaching out to people with mental disorders and those impacted by suicide. More than 300 people participated in the first “Out of the Darkness Community Walk” held in Warwick. It was one of the numerous events held nationally with over 60,000 people participating. ShopRite, Price Chopper, C&D bagels and other local business donated food and refreshments. High school students served as volunteers. The event began that morning with a walk carrying lighted candles around the high school track followed by a dove release. After registration and a brief talk by area director Maria Idoni, the teams symbolically walked about three miles around the area. The ceremony closed with a reading by Battista of about 40 names of local people who died by suicide, followed by a balloon release. “It was the toughest thing I’ve ever done,” she said. “I was overwhelmed with emotion while reading all the names, especially Danny’s, but it was so healing for all of us and I ended with a prayer. We are united through this tragedy. May we walk strong knowing that we are helping to fight suicide. It was a day of love, healing, comfort, and a great testament that no matter how our loved ones died, we choose to honor their love, beautiful spirit and good memory to always live with us, and through us.” Learn more An upcoming Orange County National Survivors of Suicide Day will be held Nov. 20 at the studio of Jubilee Multi-Cultural Center, 87 Ronald Reagan Blvd. in Warwick at 12:30 p.m. For information contact Judy Battista, 845-987-4207,