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Event commemorates teenagers lost to suicide

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By Deborah Swearingen

On a beautiful October morning, hundreds gathered at Clement Park to honor teenagers lost by suicide and to help raise money to prevent it.

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Although last Saturday’s 16th annual Second Wind Run/Walk did include a run and a walk, there was more to the day than that. Second Wind Fund staff, volunteers and community members congregated in South Jeffco for a fun-filled day, which included a short program, a memorial dove release, live music, family entertainment, sponsored booths and food. Mostly, though, the event was one of remembrance.

According to its website, the Second Wind Fund, which began in 2002, believes that every child and youth at-risk of suicide should have access to mental health treatment. The organization matches children and youth with licensed therapists and pays for up to 12 sessions of therapy for those with financial problems.

In 2002, four students in Jeffco died by suicide in a nine-month period, spurring co-founders Jeff Lamontagne, Marjorie Laird and Scott Fletcher to organize a community walk/run in solidarity. From there, Second Wind has flourished.

“Sixteen years ago, there was a mission,” Laird said. “But believe me that mission to remove the financial, social barriers to keep any kid from having the care that they might need in crisis — that mission is stronger than ever today.”

For Lamontagne, who formerly served as executive director of Second Wind, it’s impressive to look across Clement Park and see a crowd of people who return year after year to help the nonprofit.

“I have the pleasure of being one of the very few people here today who’s been at all 16 events,” he said to the crowd as they prepared to begin the 5K. “It’s really an honor for me every year.”

After the run, attendees gathered in the grass for a short program at the Grand Amphitheater. Silence washed over the park as the white doves were released in honor of those lost.

Laird touted the moment as one of the “most significant, special and sacred” parts of the event.

“You say, why? … Because we’re all here together. We’re here together to remember those we have lost. … We are here together to celebrate life,” she said.

Contact reporter Deborah Swearingen at dswearingen@evergreenco.com or 303-350-1042.