As I have stated in the past, since Aria has passed, I have sent numerous emails to suicide “prevention” organizations in hopes to learn about how they are tackling this growing epidemic, primarily in teens. I said in a previous post that I wrote to the Minnesota Area Director of The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and never got a response. Until, Aria’s team became one of the top fundraising teams for the Twin Cities Out of the Darkness suicide walk. I then got a templated thank you email and a “look forward to seeing you all there.” However, I looked for her, to my knowledge, she was not there.
I also wrote the Executive Director of SAVE, Suicide Awareness Voices of Education. We shared a few emails back and forth, with him ultimately stating that certain programs haven’t been implemented because of funding. I understood that and asked eagerly what I could do to help?
“ I guess you could email our representatives and the President to ask for more funding.”
Really? You seriously think I haven’t thought of that? Also, you being the Executive Director, you have no other initiatives to increase funding or awareness? I was blown away by his response. I felt defeated.
On April 4th, 2019, I came across a flyer on Facebook about Shout Out Loud. A family friendly suicide prevention and awareness event on October 5th. I was intrigued and excited to see what this was about, but, I wanted details. Who was funding it? Where is the money going? What does the event entail? I sent them an email.
Within 20 mins, I got a response from Laura Dizon. A woman who lost her brother, Aaron Lee Dizon, to suicide 5 years prior. Her and her partner, Dr. Lisa Lovelace, created this event to start a conversation about suicide and prevention. In hopes to take away the stigma and create a safe place where people could learn about coping mechanisms and resources. I learned that Laura and I have a lot of mutual friends. We clicked immediately. In the email, she acknowledged that she had heard about Aria and how special she was. It was the first time I felt HEARD by someone who shares the same passion as I do, when it comes to suicide prevention.
Laura and Dr. Lisa, invited me to help and work with them in any capacity I could. We reached out to all the major local news stations, to no avail. We are hoping next year we can get some more media coverage, like ELLEN:). We have continued to work and Shout Out Loud everywhere we go. Our grassroots effort has paid off. Expecting thousands of people throughout the day. We received tons of donations. So many organizations are coming and donating their time and their resources.
Shout Out Loud has partnered with PrairieCare Child and Family Fund. This fund writes grants to schools for mental health support. Every dollar raised by this event goes to PrairieCare Child and Family Fund. Also, every penny given to the fund is given to schools throughout the state depending on their specific needs. I’ve said it a million times, Suicide Prevention should start in schools and this is an incredible first step to making that happen.
This is a free event. It’s at the St. Louis Park Rec Center on Saturday, October 5th starting at 11:00am. There will be booths with resources from PrairieCare, Synergy eTherapy, DBT and EMDR Specialists, Tiny Acorn Portraits, Northstar Therapy Animals, Rogers Behavioral health, Nystrom and Associates, Care Counseling, and many many more. At each booth, there will be a game or a coping skill for children to play and learn. There is an art bus for people to create art during the event. There will be kite making, henna, face-painting, balloon animals, defense move games, Giant Jenga, Connect Four, and an art sale, the list goes on. Food will be provided by food trucks, Moe’s Drive in, GI Joes, and Nautical Bowls. Beer and wine provided by the American Legion. There is a silent raffle and tons of donations to bid on. There will be music throughout the event, the stage is sponsored by Bunnys Bar and Grill and Henley Audio. Below is the line up, (I will be singing one song with The Devine Collection)
I want to thank two of my favorite local artists who made videos in support of this event. They highlight the importance of mental health support and resources, Stokely Williams from Mint Condition and Slug from Atmosphere.
For those who don’t know, when Aria was in Kindergarten, she starred in Atmosphere’s “She’s Enough” video. Since her passing they wrote a sweet message in memory of Aria. I am so grateful for that. She had SO much fun shooting that video. One of her most memorable moments. She was so proud to be apart of it.
There are so many people/businesses I want to thank, so bare with me. Chelsie Lopez, thank you for bringing Shout Out Loud to my attention and for all of your love and support. Stephanie Devine, thank you for always being such an amazing friend and helping us put the music together for this event. Josh Stewart, thank you for video taping me twice because I am a brat! Deevo, for learning my song, I am grateful. Nate Melek for being so helpful and getting donations from the “West Side” of town. Gary Rackner and Steve Koch from Bunny’s for sponsoring the music stage in honor of Bugs. Ashlee Senser for working so hard to get these artists to donate concert tickets for their shows,
Along with so many other awesome musical donations, thanks CHIP. A HUGE thank you to, Joe Sensers Sports Theater( Love you Papa), Sunnyside Gardens, Hello Pizza, 44th and France Wine and Spirits, Glow Lounge, Edina Grill and Great Harvest Bread (These are just the donations I got, there are well over 200 prizes.)
Thank you to all my family and friends for taking time to volunteer. I know Buggy is so proud and grateful for your help.
Laura and Dr. Lisa, you have no idea how much your support and love has helped me in these early months. Id be lost without the hope of what this initiative brings. Its given me something to fight for in honor of my baby girl. I truly believe Aria and Aaron connected all of us with a plan. I believe we WILL make a change and it takes BAD ASS women like you to do so. I am proud to be able to work beside you.
Aria Joy, I will work tirelessly for the rest of my life to honor you. Thank you for choosing me to be your mom. I love you.