75 Hikers Raise Funds for American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

The path around the pond at Camp Jefferson was partially flooded when hikers attempted to circle it as part of an American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) Hike for Hope. But an altered path and sometimes heavy rain did not deter 75 people from turning out either to volunteer or to hike, organizer Dana Critchlaw told The Jefferson Chronicle.

In spite of the weather, the pond at Camp Jefferson is picturesque. (Photo: Jane Primerano)

The Saturday, May 19, hike was sponsored by JT Connect. Critchlaw reported that there were 60 registered hikers, but more came out despite the weather. Between online and in-person donations, the hike has raised approximately $14,000 so far.

At 9 a.m., hikers started registering and snacking on bagels from Donagels. Critchlaw, Mayor Russell Felter, and Wendy Sefcik of AFSP/Remembering TJ welcomed the hikers, vendors, and supporters. Sefcik is a founder of the group, which was formed after her 16-year-old son committed suicide.

After a stretch led by TruNature Yoga employees, the hikers took off for either a half-mile hike around the Camp Jefferson lake or a 2.5-mile “there-and-back” hike. On the lake hike, Felter pointed out an ambitious beaver construction project at the water’s edge.

A steady rain did not deter these walkers at Camp Jefferson. (Photo: Jane Primerano)
Intrepid beavers are realigning the pond at Camp Jefferson. (Photo: Jane Primerano)

Critchlaw congratulated the teams and extended thanks to:

  • Camp Jefferson and the mayor’s Wellness Campaign for providing the location and AFSP for its guidance and excitement in helping JT Connect plan the walk
  • Volunteers – Jessica Gravino, Melissa Kiretsis, Debi Merz, Wendy Stabile, Janet Boetticher, Brittany Boetticher, Janet Pilewski, and Kristine Wilsusen
  • Supporters – Mental Health Association of Essex/Morris, Montville Stigma Free, The Etheric Body, Donagels, Milton Inn, Oak Ridge Martial Arts, Ridge Powersports, ESI, Gatwyns, Sophia Inclusive Catholic Community, and everyone else who participated or supported the cause.

The website remains open for donations until June 30. All donations are tax deductible, Critchlaw said.