‘Out of Darkness’ walk to occur in March, donor to match contributions up to $50,000


Alex Connor/Iowa State Daily

Students, including co-director Scott Moss, and Suicide Awareness Organization president Nathan Pfister table on Feb. 14, 2018 to help spread awareness about the upcoming “Out of Darkness” walk in March. 

Alex Connor

For Scott Moss, he has a personal interest in not just participating in Iowa State’s first “Out of Darkness” walk, but also organizing it. 

At an individual level, Moss is walking in remembrance of his dad who died by suicide in 2005. But in bringing “Out of Darkness” to Iowa State, he is hoping it can have an impact on everyone at a community level.

“Out of Darkness” is sponsored by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and aims to bring awareness for suicide prevention by raising money at a community level to help propel efforts of beating the stigma surrounding mental health.

In partnership with the Suicide Awareness Organization at Iowa State, Moss is hoping by bringing this walk to campus he can help garner more support for addressing the issue of mental health and suicide. 

The walk will take place at 1 p.m. on March 24, 2018, at Iowa State with registration starting at noon. The walk is free to participate in. However, walkers are encouraged to establish teams to fundraise money for suicide awareness.

“I created a team for my dad and so I have family that will be coming into town — immediate family and then my cousins, as well,” Moss said. “It brings a lot of joy to them — it’s a bigger thing than my own personal interest in it. It’s for everyone.”

As of Thursday, the walk has raised $9,251 and has more than 200 participants.

“We recently got an anonymous donor who said that they were going to match dollar for dollar what we got, up to $50,000,” said Kelsey Culbertson, who is helping to organize the event.

That means the walk actually has upward of $18,000 raised. And participants still have one more month of fundraising to go. 

Both Moss and Culbertson are actively involved in Student Government, which also has a team. So far, they have raised $500 of their $1,500 goal. 

“The whole event itself is centered around the [idea] that people aren’t alone and that it’s all right to have these conversations and to try and promote wellness for the students, the community, families, whoever it might be,” Moss said.

Moss said the organization has rewarded him with the feeling of accomplishment in spreading suicide awareness.

“Do good and good will find you — I really felt that with this walk so far. It always seems like every other day there is some big thing I can point at and say that is really awesome that this is happening for this walk or happening for people to beat the stigma behind mental wellness,” he said. 

During the event, there will be speakers, as well as an opportunity to wear honor beads in honor of one’s personal connection to the cause. 

“We’re also going to have a memorial wall where people can put pictures, posters or flowers or whatever they want to on it to honor whoever they are there for,” Culbertson said.