Out of Darkness walk raises funds for suicide prevention

Dorchester Banner/Susan M. Bautz  Ken Walton, left, and his “team” were part of the 1st Out of the Darkness walk in Hurlock to raise funds for informational flyers and brochures to be placed in public outlets throughout Dorchester County.

Dorchester Banner/Susan M. Bautz
Ken Walton, left, and his “team” were part of the 1st Out of the Darkness walk in Hurlock to raise funds for informational flyers and brochures to be placed in public outlets throughout Dorchester County.


HURLOCK — Anyone traveling on Rt.392 outside of Hurlock from 3-4 p.m. on Sept. 18 would have scratched their heads in bewilderment at the scores of people walking in groups with a Hurlock police car at the front and one at the rear. Over 200 people participated in the 1st Out of the Darkness community walks for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) to “raise awareness about suicide and depression, raise money for research and education to prevent suicide from taking place, and provide assistance and a safe outlet for survivors of attempted suicide.

These annual walks are the signature fundraisers for the AFSP and draw nearly 250,000 walkers in 360 cities across the country. Walks on the Eastern Shore include one on Kent Island, one in Ocean City, and now in Hurlock.

Ken and Christine Walton know the pain of losing a child to suicide. They lost their son Kenny, a volunteer firefighter, to suicide in February 2015 and they are the driving force in bringing resources and information about suicide prevention to Dorchester County. Both feel strongly that if information was readily available at local fire companies, churches, or community organizations those who contemplate suicide might seek help.

Mr. Walton says, “I believe that if there was a flyer or some sort of brochure sitting around at the firehouse Kenny might have picked that up and read it. But there is nothing like that out here. A percentage of the money we raise today stays in Dorchester County to pay for flyers and brochures. That’s going to help people you don’t even know. What we’re doing now will save somebody’s life. Maybe a few people.”

President of the Secretary Volunteer Fire Company, Lenny Pfeffer, said that volunteer companies from Secretary, East New Market and Hurlock “are here representing the Dorchester County fire services of which Kenny Walton was a strong member. We’re here to support him and his family for the walk today.”

Mr. Walton said they had a lot of community support including those who donated items for the Tricky Tray and baked goods tables. After the 4 mile walk, hot and hungry walkers could sample hamburgers, cheeseburgers, baked beans, cole slaw, chips, and plenty of water provided by Two Chicks catering. There was plenty of foot tapping to music offered by DJ Mike Clements. Mr. Walton explained, “All the money for the cakes, cookies, and Tricky Tray goes into the kitty for Dorchester County flyers.”

“We’re having more people than I expected. We’re over 200 people. I thought we would get maybe 150. I’m very excited about it.” He hopes attendees will tell people about the event and many more will attend next year. The Waltons plan to assemble a committee to help with the myriad of details involved in making the event as successful in the future as it was on the 18th when over $10,000 was raised.

“You have to bring awareness,” he says. “I never had any clue, nobody did. Six hundred and some people showed up at Kenny’s funeral and none of them knew.”

Susan Bautz is a freelance writer for the Dorchester Banner.

You are encouraged to leave relevant comments but engaging in personal attacks, threats, online bullying or commercial spam will not be allowed. All comments should remain within the bounds of fair play and civility. (You can disagree with others courteously, without being disagreeable.) Feel free to express yourself but keep an open mind toward finding value in what others say. To report abuse or spam, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box.

Facebook Comment