DUNKERTON — Alive and Running will mark its 10th anniversary the same way it always has: Runners will make their way through 3.1 miles of Dunkerton streets to support suicide awareness.
The annual race begins at 7:30 a.m. Saturday on Carroll Boulevard. Troy Belmer, one of the founders of Alive and Running, a nonprofit to promote suicide awareness and prevention, said the event usually draws around 1,000 people each year. About 70 % of participants walk the event.
“It’s not a rough course at all,” Belmer said. “It’s more bringing people together than anything.”
Several changes have been made this year, in particular to the Remembrance Ceremony the evening before the race. The ceremony will be held at dusk outside Dunkerton High School, and this year there will be a live auction.
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There will be a guest speaker discussing how suicide has affected her life, and the names of individuals lost to suicide will be read along with a picture slideshow. The evening will end as luminary bags are placed in a circle around the football field and in the center, forming a semicolon.
Belmer and his friend, Ryan Nesbit, founded the organization 10 years ago to raise awareness about suicide after their Dunkerton High School classmate, Rodger Dos, took his own life in 1991.
The funds from the race, which come largely from about 25 sponsors and participants, go to several recipients. Belmer said a “good chunk” goes to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Each year it gives away scholarships, one of which is awarded to a Dunkerton student and the other to any Iowa student. Some funds go toward local support groups as well as billboards promoting suicide awareness. In the past they’ve given to MercyOne and UnityPoint Health.
“The majority of our funds get into the Cedar Valley,” Belmer said.
The event will also have a memory wall, a board where people can post pictures of individuals they have lost to suicide. Those interested in participating can sign up at www.aliveandrunningiowa.com