Hundreds of green balloons filled the air at the third annual #GetInTouchForHutch event in Arthur on June 27.
The balloon release, 1km walk and 5km run were held to honour Steven Hutchison, who took his own life in February 2013, and to bring together the community to show support for those struggling with mental health issues.
“For us, Steven didn’t show any signs of struggle at all,” said Myrna Hutchison, Steven’s mother.
“He didn’t tell us how he was feeling, so when we lost him to suicide we just all felt the need to do something so that others didn’t have to experience that same amount of tragedy. We have to do something to help those struggling in silence.”
The balloons are a message of hope and “it’s a way to honour the person that we’ve lost and loved so dearly,” said Myrna.
During the opening ceremonies, Myrna, along with her husband Stu and son Kevin, spoke of the family’s struggle.
“I often think of what we could have done differently, how we could have helped or what we could have said to Steven if only he had reached out to tell us how he was feeling so things wouldn’t have ended up the way that it did,” said Myrna. “I would tell him that there is no problem in the world that is too big for us not to be able to solve together.”
Guest speaker Tana Nash, executive director of the Waterloo Region Suicide Prevention Council, acknowledged the crowd’s dedication to raising awareness and spoke about how suicide has impacted her.
Nash lost her grandmother and sister to suicide.
“Everyone’s grief journey is very personal and no two are alike … I have chosen to take my pain and turn it into something positive and hopeful for others so it doesn’t become toxic inside of me and swallow me up,” she said.
“What you are doing today is so important.
“You’re raising awareness, you’re breaking down stigma, and the services you are supporting, each of you, are impacting other people’s lives.”
Myrna, Kevin and Stu Hutchison lead the run/walk with a sign that reads “Not feeling like yourself today and need to chat? You’re not alone.”
Over 600 people raising $50,000 came out to show support and participate in the balloon release and walk/run.
#GetInTouchForHutch has raised $175,000 in three years, with proceeds distributed to Kids Help Phone, WesForYouthOnline and #GetInTouchForHutch for local training and awareness activities.
Myrna said she is so thankful for all the support.
“This is definitely a reflection of what we have received in way of support since Steven’s passing. Every year more and more people come to support us, our family, Steven’s friends,” she said.
“We just want to thank everyone who’s been standing beside us and carrying us through on this journey.”
Fore more information about #GetInTouchForHutch and Myrna’s story visit getintouchforhutch.com