Car wash fundraiser raises awareness of teen suicide and prevention
Brandy Anderson poses next to a classic car on display. (Keyra Kristoffersen/City Journals)
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The roar of finely tuned car engines could be heard over the valley from Sunset Coffee in Sandy on Saturday, May 13, despite the chilled wind. A joint effort between the Lake Town Street Crew and the Reach Program created an event for car enthusiasts to enjoy the purr of engines while supporting and fundraising for teen suicide awareness and prevention.
“We took it upon ourselves to do everything that we could to give back to our community,” said Ryan Hill, leader of the Lake Town Street Crew. “We connected with Angela and the Reach Program and ended up picking the subject matter of suicide awareness and prevention and it just took flight.”
The Lake Town Street Crew was started more than a year ago, and the members knew when they saw the impact their support system was having on the group they wanted to share that with the community.
“The reason it hit home was because of my daughter. Her high school has had three or four kids take their life and it was a subject matter that just clicked,” said Hill. “It’s hard to find free treatment or free counseling and that’s what we’re offering.”
The Reach Program provides activities, entertainment, service and support to victims of abuse, neglect, suicide and depression by offering free suicide prevention classes to the public. Angela Gilbert, the program’s founder, dealt with depression most of her life before hitting upon her purpose when she saw how it was affecting her son, who also has depression.
“Our goal is to train 1,000 people this year in suicide prevention. We are serious. It is time. The number one killer of teens is suicide right now,” said Gilbert. “And the parents need to know that it is very important to talk about suicide with their kids. Everybody thinks that if I talk about suicide to my child, they’ll become suicidal. That is a complete myth. If you don’t talk to them, at ages 9 and 10, they’re going to hear about this and take it wrong, thinking it is a solution. We need to let them know that they’re worthy of our help and our support.”
The Reach Program will soon begin teen support classes to help teach stress- and life-coping skills, communication, and provide nature and animal therapy.
“That’s one of the big things that stuck out to me, when I saw that it was suicide awareness,” said Nate Barnett, who heard about the event online and from friends. “I’ve had a couple of close friends who have either attempted or gone through with suicide, and myself having dealt with depression for a lot of my life, I can definitely relate to it. It’s really cool that they put this on for that and it’s a great cause.”
Hill said they had hoped for at least 200 people to show up but was absolutely delighted when, despite the chilly weather, the number actually hovered around 800.
“This is the first time that we have partnered with another group and done this kind of event,” Gilbert said. “As far as fundraisers go, this has been the biggest one that we have done. I love the turnout. We’ve met so many great people.”
Brandy Anderson, vice president of Beehive Betty’s, a local pin-up group that specializes in inclusivity, was thrilled with the event.
“Another reason that the girls in our pin-up group formed our group was that a lot of us were bullied in high school. A few of them were probably at the point where they wanted to commit suicide, some had to switch schools and now we get to be who we want to be. I get to wear my pretty clothes.”
Cars and an important cause to many people seemed to bring them together.
“I had some friends here and I made some new ones,” Barnett said.
Information on teen support classes and free suicide-prevention classes for all ages can be found by visiting www.thereachprogram.com.
To find out more about the Lake Town Street Crew, visit www.laketownstreetcrew.com.
The Salt Lake City suicide hotline is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 801-261-1442 and the national crisis text line is 741-741.