VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — It was a beautiful day for an ocean-side jog, but Sunday morning’s run was a little different.
Non-profit group, I Need a Lighthouse, hosted its 14th annual Beacon of Hope 5k. It’s a way for family and friends to honor the loved ones they’ve lost.
“It’s a cause close to my heart. I lost my younger sister to suicide at the age of 20,” deputy director Kate Cardone said. “It’s a really wonderful day. We have our folks who come and run with us because they have been touched by a loss and it’s an incredible morning of hope for them.”
As hundreds of people jogged down the boardwalk, others hung pictures and letters, in memory of family and friends.
Event Organizers said they want to reduce the stigma and raise awareness about mental health. They want to teach people how to recognize the signs of depression and how to reach out for help.
“My world turned upside down. I didn’t believe it. I still don’t believe it. I mean, gosh!” Founder Kathleen Wakefield said, recalling the moment she found out her son had taken his own life. “We need to get the conversation going so other parents are not standing where I am. Or people that love their siblings, spouses, and family members.”
In addition to the yearly 5K, the group does youth outreach. They visit local schools in Virginia Beach and speak with students.
“Once they hear us talk we hope they know what to look for and what the warnings signs are,” Cardone said.