The Tommy Fuss Team and the Out of the Darkness Overnight Walks have become part of who I am. It started 10 years ago when our beloved son, Tommy, took his life at age 17. I was overwhelmed by my own grief when my niece, Kristin, and I did our first Overnight Walk in 2007 just 8 months after Tommy’s death. That night I realized that I was not alone. I became determined that on behalf of Tommy, whose life was cut short by a terrible and misunderstood disease, we would make a difference. With the support of family, old friends and new, the Tommy Fuss Team has grown into a remarkable group of walkers, crew members and those who support the Team through their encouragement, their sharing of personal stories and their generous donations to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
We can’t bring our loved ones back, but our participation each year in the Overnight Walks allows us to do three things. First, it allows us to raise awareness and reduce the stigmas associated with suicide and mental illness. Each spring we initiate and encourage conversations and sharing of information with our “extended team” of hundreds of supporters. Second, we solicit donations that fund the educational programming, suicide prevention research and advocacy on state and federal levels of the AFSP. Third, we gather to walk along side one another during one night. It is a time of remembrance, sharing Tommy stories, healing and HOPE. And in my mind and in my heart Tommy is walking along side us, leading the way.
We walk for Tommy and for all those we have lost to suicide – Rosalie, Myra, Phil, Dan, Katy, Michael, Zack, Patty, Patricia, Matthew, Sean, Denise, Marilyn, Tricia and all those whose names we do not know.
The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is dedicated to saving lives and bringing hope to those affected by suicide. AFSP creates a culture that’s smart about mental health through education and community programs, develops suicide prevention through research and advocacy, and provides support for those affected by suicide. Led by CEO Robert Gebbia and headquartered in New York, AFSP has local chapters in all 50 states with programs and events nationwide. Learn more about AFSP in our latest Annual Report, and join the conversation on suicide prevention by following AFSP on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.