In a high school, nothing is more powerful than a group of students who, after being impacted by life-altering events, decide to help be part of the solution and make a difference not only in their school, but in the greater community. That is what happened within the Arapahoe Community after the death of two students in the fall. Seniors Ry Renshaw and Brooke Smiley decided to make a difference that they believe can save lives and provide hope to those affected by suicide. Both are heavily involved in the DECA program, and in November created on a mock marketing campaign for a suicide prevention event. After they met with representatives from AFSP (American Foundation for Suicide Prevention), they felt led to transition the project from an idea into an actual event, and the results have left an indelible mark on the Arapahoe community.

Sunday, April 14 was the day Ry and Brooke selected for the event. Participants were able to sign up for the Out of Darkness Walk either as members of a team or as individuals. The beautiful afternoon welcomed over 1,200 walkers who had the opportunity to raise funds for suicide prevention through their involvement. When the students first planned the event, they had an initial fundraising goal of $12,000. Little did they know, by the time the event concluded they had raised over $65,000!

The entire event has made a strong impression on Ry. “I honestly don't think there will be a better feeling than standing in the bed of the truck looking out on the crowd. It was one of the most rewarding feelings ever. Brooke, Melissa, and I put so much work into this event and seeing the amount of participants and donations made it so worth it.

Brooke commented that “it was so incredible to be a part of such a large and impactful movement. The walk not only helped Arapahoe heal but other hurting communities as well.”

These two students are an example of how Arapahoe High School is working extremely hard within the community to continue to bring awareness to the importance of mental health. Both Ry and Brooke have had underclassmen approach them about continuing this new tradition in future years as an outward demonstration of our effort to end suicide.

Donations are still being collected on the AFSP website.