continued "Tara volunteered for our Liverpool walk, but there was nothing formal," Coleman said. "We didn't work together or anything."
However, the money raised by SAS originally was channeled to the AFSP. Now that Coleman and Syracuse AFSP Chair Debra Graham (who could not be reached for comment) had closed that avenue, Dennee decided to pursue other options — and SAS's new mission was born.
The nonprofit now operates on its own, and 100 percent of the profits go back into the organization for outreach and educational programs. After a successful fundraiser this summer, SAS was able to start sending condolence baskets to families nationwide who have lost a loved one to suicide. In addition, starting next month, the nonprofit will begin hosting support groups for those touched by suicide (see sidebar).
The most important change that’s come about since Dennee founded SAS, however, is that people recognize the existence of the organization now.
“Our name is getting out there,” Dennee said. “Our mission is so simple that people can relate to what we are trying to do. People know we are a very small, local organization run by survivors and feel comfortable pouring their hearts out to us. I've had so many people call me, email me, message me on Facebook, and tell me how relieved they are that they now have somebody to talk to that really understands. This to me is just priceless. I hope people feel comfort knowing that they aren't alone. None of us want to be in this secret society of suicide survivors… but we are.”
The walk on Sept. 29 will hopefully further that name recognition, as well as raise more funds for SAS’s programming. The walk begins and ends at the Inner Harbor Amphitheatre, with walkers following Onondaga Lake along the Creekwalk. They’ll pause along Hiawatha Boulevard for a “Stand-Off,” where all walkers will stand hand in hand and share a moment of silence to raise awareness for the cause. Registration and sign in are at 10 a.m. Guest speakers will begin at 10:30 a.m., and there will be a balloon release at around 10:45 a.m. The walk itself begins at 11 a.m. Register at SASEvents.kintera.org.