A person struggling with a medical condition, including suicidal thoughts and behavior, should never feel ashamed or embarrassed to get the help they need, Mary Weiler said Saturday, Sept. 18 in Wahpeton.

Weiler, board chair of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s North Dakota chapter, attended the first annual Out of the Darkness Walk in Wahpeton and Breckenridge, Minnesota. Community members and visitors shared their stories, walking in remembrance of, strength for and solidarity with loved ones.

“This is about every single person standing here today, and all I can say is ‘wow,’” local chair Stefani Mikkelson said. “For a small community, we have done awesome for our first walk.”

Saturday’s participants included the “Korbin’s Krew” team, walking in remembrance of Korbin Steinwehr. A U.S. Air Force veteran from Hankinson, North Dakota, Steinwehr died by suicide Tuesday, Sept. 14. Between Wednesday, Sept. 15 and last Saturday, Korbin’s Krew raised $2,673 for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

“We will establish a support group for survivors and bring suicide prevention education into our schools, where it is most needed,” Mikkelson said.

Korbin’s Krew, in recognition of its fundraising efforts, was permitted to lead the Out of the Darkness walk. In doing so, Mikkelson said, it showed that the full suicide awareness and prevention community was standing behind them and for Korbin Steinwehr himself.

“Our walks do more than raise dollars to bring programs to communities. They honor those we’ve lost and they bring suicidal conditions out of the darkness,” Weiler said.

Tara Klostreich, Breckenridge, was recognized as the individual who raised the most for Out of the Darkness, $1,030 total. In addition to broadcasting the Wahpeton-Breckenridge walk through Daily News’s Facebook page, Klostreich took part in the pre-walk bead ceremony. She is also the sister of Mikkelson and Trista Hodges, Breckenridge, whose responsibilities included introducing Weiler.

“By having this walk here today in Wahpeton you will help spread the word about the importance of prevention and education, the importance of letting those in your schools, workplaces, churches, struggling with depression and mental health conditions know that there is help available for them,” Weiler said.

Saturday’s event concluded with the release of balloons. Event participants of all ages and backgrounds watched as their messages of love, loss and sometimes hope and understanding rose to the skies.

The second annual Out of the Darkness walk will be held Sept. 11, 2022, in Wahpeton and Breckenridge.

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