Samaritans will be holding its 22nd Annual 5K Run/Walk for Suicide Prevention on September 26, 2020. This is the first year it will be held virtually — also a first for Jane Quercia, who has participated in the walk every single year!
Jane lost her brother, Tommy, to suicide in 1987.In Jane’s effort to make sense of her devastation, she started volunteering at Samaritans. Over 32 years, she has done it all: Helpline volunteer and home leader, Grief Support Services facilitator, and Board member.
When Samaritans’ 5K Run/Walk for Suicide Prevention began in 1998, Jane and her husband formed Tommy’s Team. Since then, the team has grown to include family members and friends, and has six team members participating this year. Because the event is virtual, 5K participants will be joining from all over the country. On Tommy’s Team, there will be three members walking and running in Maine. Jane is thrilled to be walking with her great niece and her two babies in their strollers around her home in Massachusetts.
Throughout the years, one of the most memorable moments for Jane was on the 10th anniversary of the 5K walk, when she spoke to the crowd. When Jane lost her brother to suicide in 1987, she felt like suicide was even more taboo that it is now – that no one wanted to talk about what had happened or why. Seeing how many people showed up to support the walk in its 10th year reassured Jane that people were recognizing suicide as a real issue.
Every year the walk has garnered a bigger crowd. In the early years, Samaritans would read aloud all of the names of the participants’ loved ones lost to suicide. The walk has grown so much over the years that now there is not enough time to read all the names, and instead honor our loved ones lost on our ribbon wall. Though it is comforting that so many survivors are now willing to be open about their loss, Jane is saddened that we still lose loved ones in this way.
We’re all adapting to these new times, but Jane is looking forward to gathering together, even if virtually, this year. Although she wishes her team could be together in-person, she knows that there will be many more 5Ks in the future. Jane says that Tommy is looking down and smiling on all of his family members who walk in his memory, enjoying how the size of the group has expanded over the years.