Despite a thunderstorm, 61 people showed their support for suicide prevention at the annual Nikki’s Run event on Sept. 9.
The Nikki’s Fund 5k run/walk promotes suicide prevention awareness in honor of Nikki Harris, who passed away 12 years ago. Janine Harris, Nikki’s mother, started the run in 2006.
The annual event allows groups like USD Lost and Found, a suicide prevention organization, to raise awareness along with pay their respect for those individuals who have lost their lives
“It has been important to the Student Counseling Center and the Lost and Found team that we properly honor the individual, family and friends that this run is dedicated to,” said Maggie O’Brien Lost and Found vice-president.
This is the first year Lost and Found has organized Nikki’s Run. This event was the kick-off event for suicide awareness month.
“We are doing meet the executive and sharing our own stories about why we’ve joined Lost and Found and why we’re passionate about it,” said Kylie Johnson, Lost and Found president. “We’re going to be doing a lot of tabling and giving out information on different resources that we have on campus. We do a lot of stuff on awareness of mental health and different types of things.”
O’Brien said Lost and Found splits the profits with Nikki’s Fund, which ensures that the proceeds directly benefit USD students as well as Nikki’s Fund.
Johnson said they decided the change the run from a traditional 5k to a fun run, with the theme “Keep Glowing for Suicide Prevention,” in hopes that more students would participate.
Held on Sept. 9, racers were only able to participate in a one-mile walk rather than the 5k run because of poor weather.
About 130 people participated in Nikki’s Run last year.
Despite the rain, there were still 61 participants at the glow run, including former Vermillion resident Danielle Cook.
Cook has been participating in Nikki’s run for the last three years in remembrance of her sister, who committed suicide in 2013.
“Rain or shine, I’m here,” Cook said. “It’s that important.”
O’Brien said she thinks the run provides a reach-out to people if they are struggling with mental illness. Although the run had lower numbers than anticipated, Lost and Found was still able to raise more than $1,000 at the run.
“The run continues to raise funds,” O’Brien said. “This makes sure students have the resources they need if struggling with mental illness whether that be counseling, medication or supportive groups (such as) Lost