Written by Tracy Sokat, Team Aaron’s Angels
5 months ago, I had moved across the country to attend school in Boston, leaving behind everything I knew in California, and I was mere days away from starting my second semester. I was getting ready for bed one night, going about my usual routine, when I began mindlessly scrolling through Facebook. A photo post caught my eye of two good friends of mine, and it wasn’t until I read the caption that I realized one of my close friends for the past 7 years was gone from this earth. I scrambled to find more information: making phone calls, shooting off text blasts, and googling his name. About an hour later, I learned that Aaron Matthew Wolf had taken his own life.
The next few months were extremely difficult for me in terms of coping with this new kind of grief. I had lost family members and friends before, but no one will understand the unique sense of loss that suicide brings to a victim’s loved ones until they experience it. In addition to grappling with this new reality without Aaron, I was over 3,000 miles away from any connection I had to him. I watched as my friends and family attended his memorial services, and I wished nothing more than to be there grieving with the people who understood. Throughout that semester at school, I felt as though no one around me understood the pain that I was feeling.
After seeing some friends of mine take part in a fundraiser for suicide prevention in Aaron’s name, I realized that there were so many opportunities to turn this personal tragedy into a call-to-action. I quickly googled around to see what I could do to help in my area, and I found Samaritans Inc. Seeing that there was a 5K fundraiser coming up that fall, I signed myself up as a team captain and set my fundraising goal.
I’m not sure what I was expecting out of my first 5K with Samaritans. The root of my decision to sign up definitely came from wanting a sense of community, but I was not expecting the response that I received. Not only did donations from Aaron’s loved ones begin to pour in, but friends of mine from school, who didn’t even know Aaron, were offering to join me in my 5K. I ended up having a team of around 6 people, which was 5 more than I was expecting.
There is no better feeling than being surrounded by hundreds of people who understand you without even having to ask; the sense of community within Samaritans is simply unparalleled. I felt Aaron with me on that day as I walked around the Charles River, playing music on my phone by one of his favorite bands, Fun. I knew instantly that this was a feeling that I needed to keep in my life, and I have been a dedicated member of the Samaritans community ever since.
My team, Aaron’s Angels, is gearing up for our 4th consecutive 5K with Samaritans. This year, I have had the honor of serving on the fundraising committee for the 5K, along with some amazing individuals who share similar stories as mine. I’ve actually moved away from Boston, but I feel such a strong need to continue to be involved with Samaritans that I will be making a special trip back just to join in for the fundraiser.
Words cannot express what Samaritans has done for me. The 5K alone has provided a sense of joy in something I thought I may never have the ability to smile about. This is exactly the way Aaron would have wanted to be celebrated: a day full of friends, food, beautiful views, and free t-shirts! I am so thankful for anyone who has been involved in the 5K, by active participation or donation, because these are the people who help us at Samaritans fund the lifesaving resources that our community desperately needs. I encourage anyone who is considering joining in the 5K this year to take the leap and do it! Who wouldn’t want to spend a Saturday morning walking along the beautiful Charles River surrounded by people they love, while supporting an incredible cause? I know where you can find me on September 28th this year!