I want to extend a sincere thank you again to all of you for your generous support of the Tommy Fuss Team and the Out of the Darkness Overnight Walk! With your help I raised over $10,000 personally and the team was able to raise over $40,000 this year. Over the past 6 years of this walk, the Tommy Fuss Team has raised over $200,000 for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention!!! Due to the generosity of people like you we are helping to change and save lives! For that, we all thank you from the bottom of our hearts.
This year’s walk was challenging with all the hills (oh, the hills) in San Francisco. But I made it with the encouragement of my team!!! The opening ceremony was moving and inspirational. The support of nearly 2,000 walkers, crew and volunteers was amazing! Each year it is an emotional journey throughout the night. It brings up both sad and hopeful emotions as well as a sense of community. All 2,000 of us are working towards the same important goal!
As you all know, we walk to honor our beloved Tommy. Tommy touched so many people’s lives which is evident in the amount of people each year who join our team. He continues to touch people’s lives each day. You have all in some way been touched by Tommy, his energetic spirit and his personal struggles. We also walk, because Tommy’s death brought us all to the realization of how important it is to raise awareness and spread the word about mental illness and suicide.
As most of you know, after Tommy’s death and after I decided to do this walk, I decided I needed to come forward with my own struggles with bipolar disorder. This was not an easy thing for me to do. But, since we were trying to shed light on the subject of mental illness, I could not keep mine in the dark any longer. I never thought so many people would have been touched by mental illness in some way. I hope that coming forward will help others to realize its ok to talk about it and educate others. If we do not talk about mental illness and suicide and keep it in the dark, we will never be able to fight it. This is also why the Fuss family was so open with Tommy’s death. They could have not talked about it and tried to keep it a secret. But they did not! They wanted to educate, especially Tommy’s young friends who were deeply affected. For that I am proud and thankful. That also took courage.
My family and I truly appreciate the support we have received through donations, kind words, and participants on our team. It has helped us heal and feel as though something positive has come out of such a tragedy. I know we have touched lives, I know we have brought about discussion; I know we have made a difference!
Mental illness is not a weakness! It is a disease that deserves the same respect and attention as any other! It is not something to be ashamed of or scared of. Our journey did not end at the finish line in the wee hours of the morning last Sunday. It continues with education every day. I hope that you will all help us continue this mission.
I have attached our Team thank you. Please also feel free to visit our team website and www.tommyfussteam.org for more information and to see pictures of this and previous walks. Thank you again for your support and generosity! It means more than you know.
Kristin & the Tommy Fuss Team
The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) is the leading national not-for-profit organization exclusively dedicated to understanding and preventing suicide through research, education and advocacy, and to reaching out to people with mental disorders and those impacted by suicide.
To fully achieve its mission, AFSP engages in the following Five Core Strategies:
• Funds scientific research
• Offers educational programs for professionals
• Educates the public about mood disorders and suicide prevention
• Promotes policies and legislation that impact suicide and prevention
• Provides programs and resources for survivors of suicide loss and people at risk, and involves them in the work of the Foundation
– Kristin Quigley Russell