NKY 5K to raise awareness for suicide prevention

NKY 5k to raise awareness for suicide prevention
Published: Sep. 6, 2022 at 5:25 PM EDT
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HEBRON, Ky. (WXIX) - This weekend, you can compete in a 5K run and walk in memory of a teenager who took his own life several years ago.

It’s been almost four years since Debbie Zegarra’s son, Ethan, died.

Ethan was 16 years old and suffering from depression and anxiety, among other mental health issues.

After his death, Debbie knew she had to do something to continue Ethan’s legacy.

“We took part of Ethan’s education fund and a lot of donations from the community, and we started Ethan’s Purpose,” says Debbie, who is the executive director of Ethan’s Purpose, “To help supplement what the schools are already doing.”

Ethan’s Purpose helps students at five Tri-State schools by providing additional resources like one-on-one counseling and other individualized care.

“The more we can talk about our mental health as being part of our regular health, the more we can open up those conversations between kids and their parents,” says Debbie.

Ethan would ask his mom what his purpose was in life. While he never had the chance to figure that out, Debbie hopes this non-profit will prevent others from taking their lives.

“What gets me is when I have parents or even kids that will come up to me and say, ‘you know my daughter had a plan, and she had a gun, and she had a letter, and she brought it to me and she said, I need help. And she did it because she heard our story,’” says Debbie.

In just a few short years, the foundation has helped more than 300 kids.

Its fundraisers, like the 5K happening this Saturday, help them continue their work.

Debbie remembers when Ethan was having a tough time, he would run around their neighborhood.

“He just would run, and I think it would clear his head,” explains Debbie. “I’ve coached Girls on the Run for 10 years, and I’ve learned that exercise, and I exercise a couple of times a week, it is so good for your mental health. And so, the course we run is the exact course Ethan would run when he was stressed out.”

Debbie encourages anyone who is struggling to reach out to a loved one and tell them they’re suffering.

“I think for a lot of people, and even for myself at times, it’s hard to say I need help, or I’m struggling, or I’m depressed,” Debbie continues, “And it’s easy to say reach out for help but what does that mean, what does that look like?”

The run and walk will be at North Pointe Elementary School in Hebron this Saturday.

Registration will begin at 7:30 a.m. with the race starting at 9 a.m. You can register now at this link.

Call 988, which is the number for the suicide and crisis lifeline, if you or anyone you know needs support.

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