Haines family dedicated to awareness, prevention
Last year’s inaugural run/walk put on by Stomp Out Suicide can be described only as an overwhelming success. More than 1,000 people flocked to Goodview Park in Wyoming for the memorial 5K held in honor of Alissa M. Haines, who died by suicide at 15 on Dec. 29, 2011.
Alissa’s parents, Sean and Katie Haines, have even higher hopes for the second annual event, set for Saturday, Aug. 24. They aim to see higher attendance and an increase from the $40,000 raised last summer.
Most of last year’s proceeds went toward Suicide Awareness Voices of Education, a national suicide prevention organization based in Bloomington.
This year, the proceeds will help grow Stomp Out Suicide. The organization, which the Haineses started in honor of their daughter, gained official nonprofit status in December.
With that designation and a formal board of directors in place, Stomp Out Suicide is ready to take off. The organization collaborated with the Forest Lake Area Partnership for Families to hold a bowling event for students on winter break.
In February, Stomp Out Suicide, FLAPF and SAVE hosted Let’s Talk About It, a mental health resource fair. A standing-room-only crowd of more than 300 packed Stars and Strikes Entertainment Center in Wyoming for a discussion between adult and teen panelists and a keynote speech from SAVE Executive Director Dr. Dan Reidenberg.
Besides running events, the Haineses’ volunteer efforts through Stomp Out Suicide include reaching out to families affected by suicide.
“We’re not licensed professionals, but we understand what it’s like to go through losing a loved one,” Katie Haines said.
The couple hopes to launch a Stomp Out Suicide program through which families could receive financial assistance for professional counseling.
The organization’s Facebook and Twitter pages are packed with videos and articles on suicide prevention tips and resources.
The goal is preventing suicide on a local scale. The need continues: Two local students have been lost to suicide this year, the Haineses said.
“SAVE does a great job nationally, but we want to go into western Wisconsin to here in Minnesota and give these programs locally,” Sean Haines said.
Besides their day jobs, the couple gives “basically every minute we have” to Stomp Out Suicide, Sean Haines said.
The work is rewarding.
“We like what we’re doing; we’re here to save lives,” he said.
The second annual Alissa M. Haines Stomp Out Suicide 5K Run/Walk for Awareness will again be held at Goodview Park. Registration and check-in begins at 9 a.m. Aug. 24 and the 5K starts at 10 a.m.
A full day’s worth of family fun is also in store. Live music will be provided by Twin Cities indie-folk band “Sleeper and the Sleepless,” featuring lead singer Jess Nelson, a cousin of Alissa Haines.
New this year, celebrity disc jockey Mike Wycoff will spin music.
Younger youth can enjoy a bounce house, face painting and clowns.
Last year’s raffle will be replaced this year with a silent auction. It will feature signed memorabilia from Vikings linebacker Chad Greenway and professional snowmobile racer Levi Lavallee. Other items include a five-night getaway on Lake Mille Lacs, guided fishing tours on Mille Lacs and framed artwork by Minnesota artist Scott Sample.
“Some of the stuff we’ve had donated for the silent auction is incredible,” Sean Haines said.
The event will also include a resource fair, a group balloon release and food vendors.
Online registration is preferred and can be done at www.stompoutsuicide.com. Registration is $25 for those 17 and up and $15 for those 16 and under. A T-shirt is guaranteed for those registering by Aug. 3.