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‘A support system is out there’

For the past two years April Epps of Halifax has been sharing her story and has walked in suicide awareness walks in Richmond in the memory of those who have taken their own lives. 

Epps’ story began in 2000, when her fiancé, Tim, took his life while on the phone with her. After her finance — the love of her life — left her and their infant daughter behind, Epps struggled with feeling angry, mad, sad and it even brought her to the point of thinking about committing suicide. She felt guilty like there was something she could’ve done to prevent it.

Eventually she realized what happened with her finance wasn’t her fault and later in life she found love again. 

Epps is now married to Alan Epps and they have two children, Amber and Austin but she will never forget the night when her first love left her. 

Every day she said she carries the memories of Tim and what happened on the night he left. 

Her husband encouraged her to get involved with an organization to help raise suicide awareness and tell her story, which led to her to finding the walks in Richmond. 

Both years she formed a team to walk with and each member wore T-shirts that displayed a list of names of love ones lost to suicide. The first year they had nine names displayed on their shirts and the second year it jumped to 25 names.

Seeing the names increase in only a years time and having a few different ideas for a walk of her own, Epps decided to form her own suicide awareness walk. 

Epps and Kayla Cole teamed up with Suicide Awareness Voices of Education (SAVE) to host SAVE-Emotions in Motion a 5K run/walk and car show Saturday. 

Emotions In Motion: 5K runs/walks take place in communities across the country with the proceeds going toward SAVE’s education programs to prevent suicide through public awareness and education, reduce stigma and serve as a resource for those touched by suicide. 

Saturday’s events will kickoff with a 5K run/walk at the Tobacco Heritage Trail in South Boston. Check-in time for the walk/run and opening ceremonies will be from 9 to 10 a.m. with the 5K beginning at 10.  

Those participating can register online prior to the event at http://save.donordrive.com/event/southboston/ but the online registration closes at noon today. For those who did not get the change to register online, they can register at the event. 

The registration fee is $15 for an adult runner, $50 for a family of up to five people. To enter a car into the car show and participate in the walk there is a $25 registration fee. There is a $10 registration fee for those who just want to enter a car into the car show. Children 10 and under are free. 

Interested persons also have the option of becoming a sponsor. Sponsorship opportunities range from $100 to $2,000. The sponsor levels and form are located on the website as well. 

Epps said this is the perfect opportunity for large and small businesses to play a role in making suicide awareness a priority in the community. 

If runners or car show entrants raise donations greater than the registration fee, he or she’s registration fee will be waived. 

Following the walk, everyone is invited to constitution square where Epps will share her story and others will speak as well including her daughter and husband. 

The floor will then be open for those attending to speak. 

There will also be a memory wall for people to place items that belonged to their lost loved ones such as pictures, notes or cards. 

There will also be a resource table on site where a number of local organizations dedicated to mental health will be available to speak with and persons can pick up literature on mental health. 

Starting at 1 p.m. there will be a free car show at Southern Virginia Higher Ed Center where a DJ will be playing. 

Three bands, 3 Nails, Fear One and Birdsongs will be performing at Constitution Square. 

Trophies will be awarded at the car show and items will be raffled off throughout the day. 

Ollie’s will be selling food, and Cool Treats shaved ice, a bouncy house and various other vendors will be site. 

Epps hopes to show any suicide survivor at the event that they are not alone. 

“A support system is out there,” said Epps.  

 “I want to help people. I don’t want people to get to the point where they think suicide is an option,” Epps concluded.