(Sept. 20, 2019) Hundreds of area residents and visitors are expected to exercise for a good cause this Saturday, during the eighth annual Out of the Darkness Walk on the Ocean City Boardwalk.
Registration will open at 9 a.m., and the walk will start at 10:30 a.m. at Caroline Street on the Boardwalk, downtown. The two-mile walk will take place rain or shine.
Event registration is free. Online registration will close at noon on Friday, Sept. 20, but participants can still sign up at the event.
Jackie Ward, co-chair of the Out of the Darkness Walk in Ocean City, said about 500 people from across the region are expected to participate.
“The walks are a great opportunity for people who have lost someone to suicide, or have a history of mental illness, to learn that they’re not alone, and to provide hope,” Ward said.
Christen Barbierri, local care team coordinator for the Worcester County Local Management Board, emphasized how these type of events help to start a dialogue about difficult topics.
“The Out of the Darkness Walk convenes a message of hope, community and resiliency,” Barbierri stated in a press release. “We are able to bring the conversation about the importance of behavioral health out of the darkness, and into the light.”
Prior to the walk, attendees can listen to music, pick up buttons and honor bead necklaces and gather information on the local chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
Water and snacks will also be provided. Event organizers said walkers can bring signs and photos of loved ones and or friends to wear or hold during the walk. The walk is also stroller and wheelchair accessible.
The walk will start at Caroline Street on the Boardwalk. Participants will then walk down to the inlet and back up to Fifth Street before ending where they started. Participants can tackle the walk at their own pace.
There will be a closing ceremony after the walk ends.
“We highlight people who have struggled personally and people who have lost someone,” Ward said.
Participants are also encouraged to share their stories on social media using the #WhyIWalk hashtag.
Additionally, a Celebration of Life event will take place at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 20 at the Red Doors Community Center on 10959 Worcester Highway in Berlin. The event gives attendees the opportunity to honor loved ones who have been lost to suicide. Contact Ward at 410-632-1100 ext. 1049, or via email at email@example.com for more information.
Those with questions about the event can also call Barbierri 410-632-3648 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The event has raised $33,375 as of Tuesday morning, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s website. There is a $45,000 fundraising goal.
Ward said that 578 people registered for the walk last year. There was $39,381 raised last year.
Proceeds will benefit suicide awareness and prevention education.
To register or learn more about the Out of the Darkness Walk, visit the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s website at afsp.org/oceancity.
Anyone having thoughts of suicide should call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-877-273-8255 or text the Crisis Text Line at 741741 to receive free and confidential support.