Photo courtesy of SPARC 5K’s Facebook featuring the runners/walkers of the 2019 5K with their pets at the finish line.

Keira Apple, Staff writer and Photographer

   The Suicide Prevention Awarness & Resource Council (SPARC) will host the ninth annual 5K walk/run on October 8, in Louisa. The walk/run begins at eight AM at 1091 Hamiliton Rd, Louisa, VA 23093. 

    SPARC is a group within Region Ten with a common goal of raising awareness to the prevention of Suicide. The 5k is their biggest annual event. 

    “The main focus has always been to raise awareness, provide information and hope, around suicide prevention,” SPARC co-chair Shannon Wright said. 

    A local Region Ten family was impacted by suicide and wanted to take suicide prevention to the next level by partnering with national organizations and agencies that have the same goal. This is the spark of SPARC. 

   The SPARC committee members come together from Region Ten, the Virginia Department of Health, local police stations, and Mental Health American Association. They raise awareness about mental health support and resources in Region Ten which consists of Greene County, Fluvanna County, Louisa County, Nelson County, and Albemarle County. These groups work together to prevent suicide and raise awareness to mental health.

   “Suicide impacts all, which gives us hope for broader participation,” Wright said. 

   Sources of Strength (SOS) partners with SPARC to reach their common goal of suicide prevention. SOS is based in the high school as a peer-led club and hosts events for the community. SOS club members are encouraged to attend the SPARC 5k. 

   “My expectations for the 5k is to get exercise while preventing suicide. I think SPARC is doing a good job with their efforts in suicide prevention because it is an issue that is getting bigger and bigger as time goes on,” SOS club member Connnor Downey said. 

   SPARC hosts free events due to the amount of fundraising they achieve. They have raised over $150,000 in the past seven years from community donations. This money goes to the 5K walk in addition to local training efforts, resources, and special events. 

   “They do these fundraisers to raise money for prevention resources,” Sources of Strength Adviser Kendall Britt said.

   Expectations for the 5k will be starting at 8:00 AM, remembering and honoring loved ones, and welcoming everyone including pets. Registration is now open.

   “Not only is the event geared toward raising funds for a vitally important issue, but it is also a great deal of fun! The setting is beautiful and participants always enjoy their walk/run and time with friends and family on a beautiful fall day,” Wright said.