West Orange 5K to raise awareness about suicide prevention raises $15K

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WEST ORANGE, NJ — On Sunday, Oct. 2, runners and walkers participated in the third Run for WOSAC 5K Race/Walk for suicide prevention and awareness. The 5K run is hosted by the West Orange STOP Suicide Advocacy Coalition at Rock Spring Golf Club in West Orange. 

This year’s event awarded winning runners in various age categories and also presented its Community Champion Award to Lynette Sheard for her commitment to mental health initiatives in West Orange and Mayor Robert D. Parisi for his commitment to collaborative efforts in managing mental health crises while policing. The joint initiative between the West Orange Police Department and the Mental Health Association of Essex and Morris County has been recognized throughout New Jersey as a premier model program that allows trained mental health professionals to join officers as they respond to mental health crises. 

WOSAC, whose mission is to prevent suicide by promoting awareness, was founded by Councilwoman Tammy Williams, who was inspired by the loss of her younger sister to suicide. Williams believes that supporting others struggling with mental stressors and suicidal ideation is something of which her sister would be proud. 

This year’s overall winner was Karl Smidt with a time of 20:22. WOSAC achieved its goal of raising more than $15,000 thanks to the donors, vendors, participants and the West Orange community. Erasing the stigma surrounding suicide and normalizing conversations about mental health saves lives. Next year’s Run for WOSAC is scheduled for Sunday, Oct. 1, 2023.

Photos Courtesy of Tammy Williams