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Walking in remembrance

Shannon LitzApril and Aaron Craig listen to a speaker during the opening ceremony of the Walk in Memory Walk for Hope event at the Carson Valley Museum & Cultural Center on Saturday morning. They were waking in memory of Aaron’s younger brother, Allen.

Sean Koerner, 14, hangs a pink ribbon above his bedroom door in memory of his grandfather who took his own life in 2000.Sean was part of the Make a Difference group at Carson Valley Middle School who participated in Saturday’s “Walk in Memory, Walk for Hope” event hosted by the Suicide Prevention Network of Douglas County.“It was fun. It was surprising how many people went there,” Sean said. “I got to see that a lot of people have lost loved ones to suicide. Seventy-five percent of the people there had lost a family member or a friend.” Although he was 3-years-old when he lost his grandfather, Sean remembers what kind of man he was.“I have pictures of him. I remember he was really loving and kind,” he said. “He cared for everyone, and he loved playing poker.”Following Saturday’s walk Sean joined the Living Out Loud suicide prevention group for teens.“It’s good that they can share their feelings with each other, and don’t have to keep it inside and feel sad,” Sean said of the group. “I think it’s good everybody is doing the walk to remember and know their family members and friends are still with them in their hearts.”According to Debbie Posnien, director of Suicide Prevention Network, everybody who walked received a different colored ribbon that represented the person whom they lost.“We called it the Expression of Love,” Posnien said.The theme for the walk was “Stepping Stones on the Journey,” so prior to the walk participants received a rough and dirty rock to carry with them representing the burden survivors of suicide carry with them. Following the walk, they were able to exchange their rock for a smooth, shiny one that said either “courage,” “love” or “hope.”“They needed to reflect on how it made them feel if they were a survivor about the rough edges they have to deal with in losing a loved one,” Posnien said. The walkway and lawn of the Carson Valley Museum & Cultural Center was lined with more than 60 memory signs dedicated to those lost to suicide.“It added a spirit of the community wanting to make a change, so we don’t keep losing people to suicide,” Posnien said. “It added a sense of reflection on where we were five years ago and where we are now.”Posnien gave each student who participated three lifesaver candies to give to three different people Monday at school.“They were supposed to give a lifesaver to somebody they see who is alone or doesn’t have any friends,” Posnien said, “to be a lifesaver to somebody else.”The money raised from the memory signs, breakfast and walk benefits the network and its community work with teens and the elderly.“The walk went better than I thought. There were more than 130 people there. We had 98 walkers, so almost everybody walked,” Posnien said. “The breakfast by the Knights of Columbus was delicious. People came to the breakfast even if they didn’t walk. The support was unbelievable.”For more information, visit http://www.suicidepreventionofdouglascounty.org or call 783-1510.RESOURCESSurvivors of suicide support group meets 6-7:30 p.m. first and third Thursday at 1702 County Road, A3, Minden Living Out Loud suicide prevention group for teens meets 2:15-4 p.m. second and fourth Tuesday of the month at 1702 County Road, A3, Minden