ATHENS — Sneakers hit Round Top Park Saturday — some belonging to families walking in clusters with ribbons donning names, others with matching “suicide awareness” T-shirts. A poster board showed pictures of loved ones lost to suicide — the reason walkers gathered to begin with.

The third annual Valley Walk Against Suicide offered two paths for walkers, one that outlined three loops across Round Top’s upper circle and the other which ventured through the woods — but whichever path one took, it was for the same reason: to raise awareness of the tragedy of suicide in Bradford County.

Amy Dupre, co-founder of the walk, stated that she started the event three years ago with her father after the loss of his sister, her aunt.

“It really, it just bugged me that I’m a nurse and I couldn’t figure out, like I couldn’t see the signs, I couldn’t see this I didn’t see that and looking back I was so frustrated,” she said.

Dupre decided to use her pain in hopes of positively impacting others and spearheaded the Walk Against Suicide “to start bringing out awareness and spreading the word.”

Dupre estimated a total of 75 walkers attended this year, the event’s best turn out so far, and told how all proceeds will stay local, some going towards next year’s walk and the rest being donated to organizations such as Main Link in Towanda that work to prevent suicide.

“I think we’ve had a lot of suicide recently unfortunately and over the years,” she said. “I feel like it’s just getting more and more and getting the community together to bring out the awareness and show that we support each other. There’s a lot of people here that have lost somebody and it’s hard and just knowing that there’s support and the community around you, not just your family but in everybody.”

“It really is, it’s so moving … it was such a moving thing to look around and see everybody that’s here and supporting, it’s phenomenal,” Dupre stated.

Dupre explained that the group is also in the process of starting a coalition that will share suicide awareness in schools and a local support group.

Along with the walk, the awareness event hosted 50/50 drawings and raffles and offered T-shirts for purchase and information and resources regarding suicide prevention.

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I am a reporter with The Daily and Sunday Review in Bradford County, Pennsylvania. See a story? Let me know!