There is Hope Walk celebrates 10th year

Ten years ago a group of local Sheboygan Falls and surrounding area families came together to begin what many of you know now as Mental Health America in Sheboygan County’s largest education and fundraiser event — the There is Hope Walk for Suicide Awareness and Prevention.

These families were suicide loss survivors, having experienced the loss of their loved one tragically by suicide. These families also had a passion for preventing others from losing loved ones to suicide and supporting other suicide loss survivors. In many ways, they were mental health champions in a time when fewer folks knew or acknowledged the reality of suicide in the community.

Since the foundation of There is Hope, hundreds have turned up year after year to support the event and help educate the community on suicide and the solutions to preventing it. Thousands of lives have been positively impacted through the funds raised by these early change makers and many others who followed. MHA’s services focus on prevention/ education, stigma elimination, accessing service and recovery/support mental health services for those in need.

While we have come far in the last 10 years, we still have a ways to go. One life lost is one too many. The Burden of Suicide in Wisconsin 2014 Report finds that the suicide rate in Wisconsin is four times the homicide rate and approximately 5,500 Wisconsin residents are hospitalized for intentional/ self-inflicted injury.

Suicide loss takes an immense toll on family, friends and loved ones left behind to the complex grief that suicide loss survivors carry. Though the problem of suicide in Wisconsin continues, hope lies in the fact that suicide is preventable. As a community, we must continue to raise awareness and support programs that address mental health, wellness and illness in a variety of ways.

Join together with other families who have lost loved ones to suicide or join in as a mental health champion to show your support. Participants come together to heal, share memories and promote good mental health. Walk-ins are welcome the day of event with registration opening at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 19, and event details are available at www.mhasheboygan. org or by calling 920-458-3951.

Jeff Yalden, a renowned teen motivational speaker who was featured on MTV as a teen life coach, is the keynote speaker who will greet the crowd during opening ceremony which is followed by a 2-, 3- or 4-mile walk, silent auction, raffles, music, brat fray, bingo and other activities to round out the event.

Help us continue our community’s suicide prevention efforts. Funds raised support MHA programs in Sheboygan County that promote healthy brain development, positive behaviors, supportive relationships and enhance services for people experiencing mental health problems, suicidal ideation and active suicidal thoughts. Help us send the message — there is hope. Walk to honor a loved one. Walk for mental health. Walk to save a life.

For more information on Mental Health America in Sheboygan County’s services or the There is Hope Walk call 920-4583951 or email

Kate Baer is the executive director for Mental Health America in Sheboygan County and member of the Healthy Sheboygan County 2020 mental health committee