MHA board members, Stephan and Cyndi Lehm, share why they decided to get involved with our organization. We’re so grateful that they are on our board and thank them for sharing their personal story.
We lost Kevin to suicide in May of 2016, at the young age of 33 years. We had no idea that he had ever had any thoughts of taking his life. We knew that he did not have a lot of self-esteem, and wasn’t very happy with his station in life; but we had no idea how deep his thoughts had run. He had hidden his demons and deep depression from his family and friends for many years.
During the summer, after we lost Kevin, we heard about the Mental Health Association in Delaware’s “E-Racing the Blues” walk that was to be held at the Wilmington Riverfront that October. We decided that we would participate in the walk in memory of Kevin. For that first walk, we were joined by our oldest daughter, her husband, and their three children, and our youngest daughter and her husband. There were many tears that day as we walked the course together.
It was at that first walk in October of 2016 that we met Laurie McArthur, the Director of Development & Communication for the Mental Health Association in Delaware, who had organized the event. We started talking to Laurie, and asked if there might be some way we could help in future walks. She told us that there would be a walk in Rehoboth in the following spring, and that she would welcome any help she could get. Since Kevin had been living in Fenwick Island when we lost him, we thought it would be very appropriate to participate and help out in the walk in Rehoboth in April of 2017.
We found out that the reason the Mental Health Association in Delaware started having the “E-Racing the Blues South” event was as a result of the rash of suicides in Kent and Sussex Counties between Jan. 1, 2012 and May 4, 2012. In that time, there were 11 suicide deaths and 116 attempts among young people between 12 and 21 years of age. In the first quarter of that year alone, the number of deaths doubled the median number typically reported in the two county area in an entire year.
Cyndi and I thought that if there was any way the two of us could help raise awareness on mental health issues and suicide, even if it would possibly help prevent even one suicide, it would be worth whatever time and effort we might be willing to put towards that cause. It was also a way of helping us in our “journey” of grieving for our loss of Kevin.
That April of 2017, we formed “Team Kevin” for the “E-Racing the Blues South” event. We had a total of 19 members of our family, friends, and neighbors, who walked together in Rehoboth, and raised a total of $3,175.00 to help fund essential mental health education programs and support groups, including suicide prevention, in Kent and Sussex Counties in Delaware. We walked again as “Team Kevin” in October of 2017, and raised additional funds.
This year, we again will be walking in “E-Racing the Blues South” in memory of Kevin, and our goal is to raise $5,000.00 towards the cause.
Cyndi and I are confident that we will continue to walk every year in memory of Kevin, in both the North and South “E-Racing the Blues” walks, until our health finally prevents us from continuing.