Philadelphia August 1998 -- 20 years ago. Who would have known? Who would have thought?
It takes years to move on and to move forward. I'm 11 years into the process. The Tommy Fuss Team, comprised of family and friends, old and new, have been a great source of strength for me. Our support of and participation in the Out of the Darkness Overnight Walks have allowed us to share our story and hopefully help others.
It started 11 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. Over the years 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 – Colin, Katy, Rosalie, Myra, Phil, Dan, Michael, Zack, Patty, Patricia, Matthew, Sean, Denise, Marilyn, Tricia and all those whose names we do not know.