The Arka Tech

Out of Darkness Campus Walk named top event in country

The second annual Arkansas Tech University Out of the Darkness Campus Walk will be conducted April 18. Registration will begin at 8 a.m., and the walk will begin at 9 a.m.

Co-chairs Tonya Gosnell and Kristy Davis said they are raising the bar at this year’s event. Gosnell is community education manager for Turning Point Adult Behavioral Health at Sainty Mary’s Regional Medical Center.

“Our goal this year is $20,000, as the word has gotten out about what we are doing in our community,” Gosnell said. “At this time, we are encouraging teams to organize and begin their fundraising.”

The inaugural event raised more than $16,000 for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP).

“We set our goal at $5,000 due to the size of our school and community compared to the other campus walks around the country,” Gosnell said. “We felt very optimistic about reaching that $5,000 goal. We raised $16,124 instead.”

Gosnell and Davis, associate dean of Student Wellness at Tech, were presented an award from the AFSP as one of the top 10 fundraising walks out of 85 walks nationwide. Christopher Epperson, the Arkansas chapter chair for the AFSP, recently presented the award in the Young Ballroom.

“We had over 600 participants in an overwhelming response due to the fact that suicide impacts so many individuals and families in our community,” Gosnell said. “It was amazing.”

Gosnell said she became involved with the suicide prevention campaign because so many lives were affected in the Arkansas River Valley.

“I was doing some research on suicide statistics, and there’s such a need. So many people have been affected by suicide in our community,” Gosnell said. “There’s so many people that need our help.”

The cost of the event is free, and those wishing to participate can register at www.campuswalks.org.