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Suicide prevention event takes wing

Run/walk at Ella Harris Park drew more than 800 participants

Courtesy of the Paul Michael Donahue Foundation
The Wings of Life 5K and walk took place this month to coincide with September as Suicide Awareness Month.

Ella Harris Park in Mullica Hill was the setting for the Wings of Life 5K run and one-mile walk on Sept. 16 to raise awareness of suicide prevention.

The event featured more than 800 runners, according to its host, the Paul Michael Donahue Memorial Foundation, a suicide awareness nonprofit founded by the family of suicide victim Paul “Paulie” Michael Donahue.

“Thank you all for a beautiful run/walk this morning with over 800 attendees,” the foundation posted on Facebook. “We love you so much Paulie. We will continue this work for you.”

The run/walk also honored three Mullica Hill residents – Donahue, Andrew Matter and Brian O. Blazek – and others who lost their lives to suicide. It was the culmination of a week dedicated to suicide awareness and prevention that began on Sept. 10; September is also Suicide Awareness Month.

“What a morning,” said Sarah Zuba, a Mullica Hill resident. “The turnout for the Paul Michael Donahue Foundation Wings of Life walk and run was a powerful testament that the community is here for everyone who needs support.”

A celebration of the run/walk was held at American Legion Post 452. It featured live music and food and was attended by more than 300 people, according to Harrison Township Mayor Louis Manzo.

The success of both the run and the week dedicated to suicide awareness was a topic of discussion at the Harrison committee meeting on Sept. 18.

“(It was) an awesome turnout,” said Manzo. “And we pledged to continue supporting the local goal of spreading awareness and prevention information, with the consideration of forming a township board/commission with the mission of addressing mental health and suicide issues in our community.”

A name for the board and when it will be formed has yet to be determined.

If you or anyone you know is feeling suicidal, contact the suicide and crisis hotline at 988.

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