Grace Carney, Staff Writer
On Friday, October 3, the SUNY Oneonta Women’s Varsity Lacrosse Team hosted a special event conducted to raise suicide awareness. Although the topic of suicide is a dark, heavy matter to bring to the table, the walk itself was quite the contrary. It was colorful, lively and beautifully conducted, with yellow and white balloons strung together, tied to the fence surrounding the pond at Hunt Union, swaying elegantly in the wind on a perfect autumn day.
The event lasted a little under two hours. Everyone took a white raffle ticket and walked around the pond in front of Hunt Union. With each lap, walkers received another ticket and placed it into the raffle basket of their choosing. Some of the raffle prizes included an Oneonta suicide awareness T-shirt and a gift card to Tino’s Pizzeria. Some features of the event were a donation box open to any amount, available emergency hotlines for mental illnesses, and, to show even further support for the cause, participants could either buy a two dollar bracelet or cover their hand with yellow paint and make a handprint on the poster representing the event. On other tables, elaborate, decorative pamphlets with captivating but serious messages were free as well. Some of the headings read, “Dealing with Depression,” “Suicide – A Cry for Help” and “I Think My Friend is Suicidal.” In addition, the team that hosted the walk was knowledgeable and enthusiastic, which made it all the more enjoyable. The beautiful weather kept the participants eager to complete lap after lap and kept the mood of the walk very light considering the subject.
The walk was coordinated by Michelle Genovese, a senior at SUNY Oneonta who concocted the idea of the event in the first place. Genovese was courageous enough to share some very personal information while making a speech to the entire audience, admitting that she had lost her best friend to suicide a year ago. Her motivation for creating the event was fueled by a desire to spread awareness since the passing of her friend, and for people to be more fully educated about the issue. Genovese also said she wasn’t expecting to receive nearly as many donations or as much support as she did. The people who helped to make the event possible were the members of the entire women’s lacrosse team, and particularly her coaches Michelle McGinniss and Alison Pollock. Genovese humbly noted that the reality of the event surpassed her expectations, and that the turnout was beyond what she could have imagined. She was incredibly grateful for how many people attended to show their support and care towards a cause she had a personal connection with. Finally, she said although she is graduating this year, she would love for the walk to continue annually, and for the girls on the team to carry on the newly established tradition for a good cause.