Out of the Darkness 5k for American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
On November 3, 2018 my husband and I and our friend, Sheral Stout, did a “Out of the Darkness” 5k walk for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention in Pasadena. It was different from the previous walk, a little more intimate but very powerful. As we were walking the streets of Pasadena, it was crowded so there was no running. This was again, a very powerful, emotional event. There were speakers talking about their own experiences and Alex Boye singing songs that he’s wirtten. There was a bead ceremony recognizing those who had lost loved ones as well as survivors. We were given beads to wear with the color corresponding to the relationship of your loved one. We wore white beads indicating that we had lost a son. We received hugs and love from people we had never met before. There were people with their dogs there doing pet therapy. Sheral’s brother, Bill Freeland, had his golden retriever Cooper there.
AFSP raises awareness, funds scientific research and provides resources and aid to those affected by suicide. Learn more about AFSP’s mission and history.
On the outer part of the right shoe, since he was my right hand man, I felt it was appropriate to include a Squirtle holding a tennis racket on the Great Wall. We were on the tennis team together, I knew he loved his sunglasses, and water Pokemon. The hashtags #LiveForKevin and #EndTheStigma had to be included on this shoe, as well as a sentence in Malagasy on the right end of the logo, which means “Forever my brother.” We all knew Kevin really loved Madagascar and wanted to go back someday. (Thanks Kevin Curtis for the translation).
On the inner side of the right shoe, the hashtag #HereForYou is included, as well as a Rayquaza curled up in a tennis ball (being hit away from Squirtle) as the artist described. There is also a robot from Gunbound, which is a game we spent countless hours playing. I included ElMonte, Madagascar, and Utah in it in reference to the places he lived, and of course Great Wall, which is what he would call us.
On the inner side of the left shoe, Jake Peters helped with a quote that he remembered Kevin saying during the mission, which was “Rehefa mihinam-bary, tsy maintsy misy latsaka.” It literally means that when you eat rice there’s always gonna be rice that falls. It kinda means like don’t stress about the little things. Stuff happens.” Golem is included because Jennifer had said he loved Golem, and Deadpool is on the shoe because I knew his nieces and nephew had fond memories of Kevin dancing in his Deadpool onesie with them. The hashtag BeThe1ToAsk is also included.
Black Bag Industries is included in reference to what he called the candy business when we sold candy from black duffel bags in high school, and people would say “The Candyman Can.” Totodile is on the shoe, including hashtags for #MentalHealthAwareness and #StigmaFree.
On the back of the shoe was our high school logo.
I just realized that my running outfit happens to be the same colors as our high school colors.
At the starting point…
Looking for Huns
Facing north to see if the Huns were invading (Mulan reference). Kevin would always get the tennis team to sing songs from Mulan at practice for some reason.
Okay so what did I get myself into?
From the Watchtower
From a watchtower and still no sign of the Huns… they did not come that day…
I do not even think this was the halfway point…
This is a really steep place…
Focused and maybe possessed?
Crossing the finish line
With the medal and the magic shoes around my neck.
by: Calvin Li May 19, 2019
“I have not written much since writing sports articles in college while attending Valparaiso University. Since I participated in an event on May 19, writing should come naturally but not now, maybe not ever in this case. I first met Kevin in summer school going into my freshman year of high school, but we did not talk much since we only talked briefly since our classes were next to each other. During freshman year, we had a geometry class together but also did not talk much until sophomore year in our world history class. He became a brother to me and we could always tell each other things. I could go on about my favorite memories with him but that would have to be another blog. When it came to college, I moved for college and he eventually went to Madagascar to serve his mission. I never felt distance was ever a factor in keeping in contact and we would talk whenever possible. In 2015, my mom unfortunately passed away from a 9 year battle with cancer and Kevin was the first person to reach out to me to offer support. It was not until last year that I learned of how many people he really helped in whatever way he can. Since then I have tried to live my life in the way he would and help those who are in need. During late nights here in Beijing, I noticed that some homeless people sleep in McDonald’s since they are open 24 hours and that was their only place for shelter. I noticed the same man during my few visits late at night and would buy him meals if I am in at the same time he was.
A year ago, I was unemployed in Boston and while at the unemployment office seeking interview coaching, I saw on Facebook that my best friend from high school had passed away. I attended his service days later in Utah and learned of how many other lives he had impacted through his presence.
Fast forward a year and I found myself on the other side of the world, in Beijing. I had never participated in any runs before and decided to sign up for a 6K on the Great Wall about a couple weeks ago, which fell a year from the day Kevin passed away. I decided then and there that I had to do it and run the Great Wall in his memory. Kevin would have said to me that I was the craziest person in the world for wanting to run up the Great Wall, and I do not know how marathon runners do it on the Great Wall, since it really is a monster. I also did not get enough training for the event. I had to sign up and do it because in high school he would say that he and I made up the Great Wall, and the event fell on the same weekend that he passed. I have been looking for races to run for a while and felt that my first race had to be special.
Before the race, I thought about how I could really dedicate the entire race to Kevin. I packed a brand new pair of running shoes that I felt should be decorated, and my coworker agreed to help me draw designs on the shoes while I write around the shoes. One weekend I was out and saw a running shirt that was in the same shade of blue as our high school, and blue was his favorite color so I had to get it. I ran a few ideas by his sister Jennifer who really helped with the picture designs and then gave the designs to my coworker to draw. On the shoes, we included some Pokemon, since Kevin loved Pokemon, our high school logo, and the Gunbound logo, which was a game Kevin and I spent countless hours playing all night in high school. Once the drawings were completed, I looked up different hashtags related to mental health awareness and suicide prevention to include on the shoes as well as other messages I had. Once I got the shoes back, I was stuck at how to start and where to start writing. Before his service last year, two of his missionary companions who served with him in Madagascar had messaged me asking about his service information, so I messaged them asking about things that he would say in Malagsy as well as translations to include on the shoes. Once the shoes were completed, I gave a sneak preview to Kevin’s family as well as the two missionaries who served with him since they helped also. Explanations for the designs will be at the bottom of this blog.
On the week before the race, I ran a couple of days, once around a track for about 3 kilometers including up and down bleachers since I was about to run on a hill, and the second day running 6 kilometers from my apartment to my office. I would have ran days after but my knee and back were aching and I had to get some over the counter medications to help ease the pain. One of the biggest challenges was that I sprained an ankle months before and almost sprained the other ankle shortly after, and was also sick for almost a month which made staying in decent shape difficult.
The night before the race, I felt restless and could not sleep. I took the day off work and woke up at 6 am to get on the bus to the Great Wall. As my usual tradition before participating in any athletic event, I must eat an ice cream, so before getting on the bus, I went for my ice cream (yes at 6 am) and then got into the subway to meet my bus. When I got to the waiting area, I was really nervous and wondering what I had gotten myself into. Halfway into the race, I felt like I could not make it but kept pushing since this was a team effort, from the shoes to the support, to the run. On the way off the wall, I lost my footing on the steps since many of the steps are uneven but caught the railing before a serious injury could happen. It was very windy during the race, which made things a bit scarier. It was so windy I thought my hair tie was going to fly off and I really hate losing hair ties and I do mean it (don’t ask why)… As I crossed the finish line and received the medal, it was an emotional moment since we all did it. I know everyone including Kevin was there in spirit, which really helped me finish.
When I got back, I went out for the most unhealthy post race celebration, which included a giant cup of milk tea, Starbucks, Pizza Hut, and soda. I was sitting on the floor in my room for a couple hours because my legs were exhausted but eventually moved. The next morning, I was ready to see a doctor again since the first ankle sprain happened from running 5K and playing basketball immediately afterwards, but instead my body was so sore from the burnout but no injuries! The craziest part was that I still weighed the same as I did before the race even after all the unhealthy things I was eating, which was really all I could think about before the event.
For those who knew Kevin, they knew that he truly loved people and would go out of his way to make others happy and help them in however he could. He truly set an example of how we should be with others in however we can, which is why many of us are now going to #LiveForKevin.”
Alive and Running 5k – Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services
September 30, 2018 the six of us, including three of my daughters, Jennifer, Felicia and Briana, one of Kevin’s best friends, Calvin and a family friend, Adam, did the Alive & Running 5k because we wanted to join our voice and support efforts to wipe out the stigma surrounding mental illness, support suicide prevention programs and help to inspire hope. It was an emotional event, more so than was I was prepared for. The atmosphere was intense and the feeling that I was surrounded with was powerful as thousands joined their hearts and resources with a common goal. We raised $1,050 as a group to promote our cause. This walk was the 20th Annual #AliveandRunning 5k Run/Walk. Together, we raised over $405,000 for suicide prevention!
“Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services has provided free mental health, substance use disorder and suicide prevention services since 1942. Dedicated to serving communities where stigma or poverty limits access, Didi Hirsch helps more than 120,000 children and adults from 10 locations and 100 schools throughout Los Angeles and Orange counties each year.
For more information about Didi Hirsch’s services, please call Centralized Intake at 888-807-7250. Hours are Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. If you or someone you know need help in a crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255. Counselors who speak English and Spanish are available 24/7.” (https://didihirsch.org/)
Hygiene Kits for the Homeless
Hygiene Kits and Sadie
Pictures of Kevin
After Kevin’s plea for us to be kinder to the world, one of the first things I thought of to do was to gather supplies and make hygiene kits for the homeless. Kevin had helped two different individuals by letting them sleep in his car when they had no where else to go. He also ended up helping them get jobs and a place to live for one of them. So, in that vein, I thought the hygiene kits was something that I could do. I created a spreadsheet and put the items on it that I wanted to collect and then sent it to co-workers to begin with. I got a lot of response from people at work. Then I had the idea to make it be a project at the family reunion that my siblings and I were in charge of in Utah last July (2018). I talked it over with my sister and we decided to do it. I then sent my spreadsheet to my cousins asking them to participate in the donation of supplies and that we would all put them together at the reunion. Since I live in California, I had to get two very large suitcases full of supplies to Utah. I ended up sending one of them and a few boxes with my daughter’s in-laws who were driving up there in their truck. We made well over a hundred kits that day and many of my cousins took some of them to have in their car to distribute to those in need that they came in contact with. I took quite a few back to California with me to have in my car to distribute and a couple in my ward at church and a few people at work also took some with them to distribute. My brother, who also took some, later reported back to me that on the days that he found someone to give them to, it was the best part of his day.
I have found this project to be therapeutic and feel like I can help to continue Kevin’s legacy of love and kindness in this way. One of Kevin’s friends heard about this project through Facebook and contacted Karissa Neely of the Daily Herald in Utah and she contacted us and ended up interviewing my daughter, Jennifer Teng. This is the result: https://www.heraldextra.com/news/local/north/lehi/a-bit-more-of-the-story-lehi-man-s-death/article_7bdd832f-5842-5d60-bcfd-bed45f9aebd8.html