Walk sheds light on suicide among students

DOWNEY - While vacationing with his family in Arizona last month, Bob Feliciano read a startling statistic.Found in an Associated Press article, the figure stated that more than 2,700 college students commit suicide every year in the United States. For Feliciano, the statistic hit home. "For every successful suicide, there was one failed attempt," said Feliciano. "So that means almost 5,400 students attempted to commit suicide - for many people it's like "oh well, they had problems, they're quitters," but they're not…My goal and objective is to save the future Sean's of America." Hoping to reduce these suicides in the future, the Sean Vernon Feliciano Amazing Day Foundation will host its first annual Walk for Life next Saturday, Sept. 11, at Stonewood Center to coincide with National Suicide Prevention Week. In addition to raising both awareness and money for suicide prevention, the 3-mile walk will also honor the life of Sean Feliciano, the 20-year-old, life-long Downey resident who took his life last March while attending UC Santa Barbara. "My son wasn't the poster boy for suicide," said Feliciano, 70. "He was a gift from God, that special spark in life. I'm not ashamed of my son - he never quit anything in his life…He used a permanent solution to a temporary problem." Although still grieving, the Feliciano family hopes the Walk for Life event will turn their personal tragedy into a local platform to help build awareness for suicide prevention in the community. Feliciano said the organization also hopes to raise $20,000 during the walk in order to help fund educational materials, prevention research and a suicide prevention program at UC Santa Barbara. Registration for the Walk for Life will begin at 6:30 a.m. with an opening ceremony starting at 7:45 am. The walk itself will begin at 8 a.m. and conclude at 10 a.m. While there is no fee to walk, donations are welcomed. The 3-mile route begins at Acapulco Restaurant, leads up Lakewood Boulevard, turns east on Florence Avenue, wraps down Woodruff Avenue to the starting point on Firestone Boulevard. Sheriff Lee Baca will serve as grand marshal during the event, which is expected to draw hundreds. The Walk for Life has nearly a half a dozen corporate sponsors and several local businesses offering their financial support, said Feliciano. Following the walk, the Sean Vernon Feliciano Amazing Day Foundation is sponsoring a second fundraiser at Chili's Grill & Bar on Lakewood Boulevard. The organization will get 15 percent of the money earned from 11 a.m. until closing when Walk for Life flyers are presented by customers. The flyers will be given out during the walk. "Everyone I've dealt with has been supportive," said Feliciano. "The purpose of this foundation is to save young people's lives. We understand that times are rough right now - it's not the best time to forge into new waters with this organization, but we want to do the best we can to save the future Sean's of America. Imagine if we could take the number of suicides down to zero - that'd be marvelous." In April, the City Council denied the Amazing Day Foundation's original proposal to host a 5k run/walk, which called for the closure of city streets. Though council members expressed support for the event, many feared permitting the street closure would undermine city policy and establish new precedent. For more information about the Walk for Life, to volunteer, or to donate, go online to www.amazingdayfoundation.org.

********** Published: September 2, 2010 - Volume 9 - Issue 20