RMU to host annual Out of the Darkness Walk


Michael Evans

Photo credit: Mike Evans

Zachary Regan, Contributor

MOON TOWNSHIP — The area outside of Robert Morris University’s Nicholson Center will be flooded with individuals preparing to take part in what will be the third Out of the Darkness Walk put on by the university.

The walk, which acts as an awareness campaign for those suffering from mental health issues and the victims of suicide, will be held by Robert Morris University’s Counseling Center. This will be only one of several walks hosted on campuses in the Pittsburgh area and will take place April 6.

“Proceeds for the walk go towards the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, with the RMU Counseling Center capable of requesting up to 50 percent of the funds raised in order to host their own programs on campus,” says Sam Beckas, who is in charge of handling the Out of the Darkness Walk for the Counseling Center.

Robert Morris’ Thrive student leaders like Alex Temple have been working to bring awareness regarding the walk to their campus for the past few months. Fliers have been posted throughout, and “Thrive has reached out to campus leaders to ensure organizations know of the initiative set by the walk.”

These same Thrive Leaders have made public statements about why they are walking in the Out of the Darkness Walk, and can be found on the Counseling Center’s Twitter, @rmu_counseling.

Historically, the Out of the Darkness Walk has been a success at RMU. “Last years total was over $10,000,” said Sam Beckas.

“So far, we have raised around four thousand dollars this year,” Beckas said when questioned about how close fundraisers are to reaching a similar goal. “We will raise probably more than half of our funds on the day of the walk itself,” she said in regards to whether or not they were worried about not making enough of their goal of $14,000 this year.

The Counseling Center and Thrive have made strides to gain sponsors throughout the Moon community. “Food will be provided by various local restaurants and shops,” Beckas noted.

“Other sponsors we have for the walk are Moon Township Honda, Nico’s Contracting Company, Bulldog Pub, Chick Fil A, Jailhouse Saloon, Guthrie, Belzycyk and Associates, AIBDT Psychological Services, Cranberry Psychological services and New Directions Counseling Services,” Temple said.

Speaking of the fundraising aspect of the Out of the Darkness Walk, the campus’ biggest earners to date, Sorority Delta Zeta, are at this time slated to raise the largest sum for the campus’s walk for the second year in a row.

Delta Zeta member and contributor Carley Nicomatti was willing to talk about what it was like raising money for the walk from a student perspective. Nicomatti raised around $200 for the Out of the Darkness Walk last year.

“The important thing is to reach out to your friends and family,” Nicomatti said. She used popular social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook to spread her message.

“I just told people that it was a very important cause that needed their attention,” she said when asked about how she presented the idea of donating to the Out of the Darkness Walk to others.

“I have friends that have lost their lives to suicide and I know many people that are affected by similar circumstances,” Nicomatti said in regards to why she is so involved in the process.

Beckas, Temple and Nicomatti were all willing to share messages on why they think people should join and participate in the walk and subsequent fundraising.

“It’s important to show that we, as a campus, are able and willing to support each other. Doing things like the walk are how we show solidarity and a willingness to help those around us,” Beckas said.

Temple said that he walks and thinks others should walk to show others that they care.

Nicomatti said, “Being willing to show others that you are there for them is important. The crowd at the walk is an inspiring amount of people showing support.”

Research done by CollegeDegreeSearch.net shows that one in 12 people have actually made a suicide attempt at some point in their lives.

“We have lost several students to suicide in the last 4 years,” Beckas said.

We are a little under two weeks away from the Out of the Darkness Walk. Anyone wishing to participate and raise money in that time can register at AFSP.org/rmu. Proceeds help not only those on Robert Morris’s campus but anyone that benefits from work of AFSP nationwide.