Oswego walks to raise suicide awareness

Students and community members join to remember the victims of suicide as they walked and released yellow balloons representing the lost lives.  (Photo provided by Joseph Pugliese)
Students and community members join to remember the victims of suicide as they walked and released yellow balloons representing the lost lives.
(Photo provided by Joseph Pugliese)

This past Saturday the Oswego State hosted the Fifth annual Stride to SAVE Lives 5K Run/Walk on campus to raise suicide awareness.

This day was a community event sponsored by Suicide Awareness Voice of Education (SAVE), which brought together not only families of those who lost loved ones, but there were also several groups from campus.

Several Oswego State athletic teams were there, as well as cheerleaders from both the college and Oswego High School.

During the opening ceremony Vocal Effect sang two songs during the opening ceremony, “Over the Rainbow” by E. Y. Harburg and “Fight Song” by Rachel Platten.

“Picking songs is the hardest part because we want to pick something with a positive, uplifting story behind it; so that is why this year we sang ‘Over the Rainbow’ and ‘Fight Song,’ ” said Zachary Riley, President of Vocal Effect. “Together they grasped the light at the end of the tunnel message with a little bit of fight in order to reach the other side of that rainbow. We have been performing at the event for a few years, personally this was my third time performing there. They always ask us to come back and perform and we are always eager to.”

Also, Amy Robbins from “The Ted and Amy” morning show on Syracuse station 93Q was at the event.

This was Amy’s first year at the Oswego event, however she said that over the years she has interviewed the event organizers for both “The Ted and Amy” show and also when she was co-hosting “Bridge Street” on NewsChannel 9; so she has made several connections related to Stride to SAVE Lives and SAVE.

“I would like to hope that being on the radio would help to spread awareness for suicide prevention and truthfully a number of important issues,” Robbins said. “We have thousands of amazing listeners, many who have been touched by suicide. It was great to see so many of them take part in Saturday’s event.”

The Stride to SAVE Lives organizer and Chairperson, Jamie Leszczynski, commented on the event’s turnout, “It’s overwhelming. This is such an amazing turnout.” The bottom floor of the Marano Center was so full some participants had to watch the opening ceremony from the upper level.

This year there were 612 participants and over $20,000 was raised so that SAVE can continue its mission.

“Our mission is to raise awareness and reduce the stigma surrounding suicide and mental health issues,” said Dr. Dan Reidenberg, the Executive Director of SAVE.

Reidenberg welcomed participants before a memorial list was read.As the memorial list was read, each participant released a yellow balloon as the name of a victim and loved one was read.

The yellow balloons floated away over the student center, representing suicide awareness and education.