Sunday September 14th was a beautiful evening for a walk at Terry Trueblood Park in Iowa City. Annual “Out of the Darkness Walks” are held around the country in memory of those who have died by suicide. We established a “Team Joel” in honor of our son who died in February 2014. We feel strongly that public awareness and education is vital in eliminating the stigma of mental illness. No one should be ashamed or afraid to get help. Mental illness is a disease and depression is treatable in more than 80% of the cases. Over 50 walkers came to support Team Joel and walk the 2 mile trail around the lake. Walkers included Joel’s friends, relatives, church family and even Joel’s dog Murphy. Team Joel has raised more than $3800 so far for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP). Half of the money stays locally and the rest goes to national. The money is used for public awareness and education, scientific research for suicide prevention, and resources for survivors of suicide loss and those at risk. Joining us on the walk were members of our Sunday School class, the Pastoral Care Commission, the MYF and others who learned about the event through social media. One of Joel’s close friends Jimmy, who attended the Walk, recognized “Pastor Miller” from Joel’s burial and funeral. He seemed quite surprised at the number of walkers and support from West Union and my response was, “Yes, that’s what we do.” We would like to thank our church family for all their understanding and support this year. Slowly we have been able to rejoin groups and activities at church, but it will be a long journey. This past year’s experience has taught us how fragile life is and that relationships are what is truly important and are forever cherished. We plan to walk this event each year, as long as we are able. We would welcome you to join us next year! ~Kent and Pam Widmer