This is a long overdue thank you to everyone who participated in this year’s AFSP Out of the Darkness Walk here in Austin, TX. Thanks to your support we had 29 walkers from around the globe and across the US and we were able to raise $7,362!!! Thus making this our most successful fundraiser to date. WOW!
We also tried something new; we offered up incentives – from bad portraits, digital art, tuneless original songs of gratitude, haikus, and bad movie recaps to “come play D&D with us”. (Although I’m not going to lie, I’m a little sad no one opted for “come throw axes with me” – maybe next year??) You made your donations, and you asked/suffered through the horrible incentives with a smile.
We had a tremendous amount of fun and we raised awareness while putting out some really unforgettable and unforgivable bad art. We’re sorry (not sorry) world!!
The above represents the list of people who signed up as walkers or personally gave to my part of the fundraiser and does not represent the entirety of the 91 people who gave a donation this year. WOW! Just WOW!
So thank you! Whether you walked, donated, or offered support with a kind word or a simple “like”. You’re helping to save lives.
Thank you for supporting us another year! Thank you for choosing to make a difference!
You, yeah you – my friends, my family, that person around the corner sitting near the coast, laptop flipped open or sitting in the comfort of your living room, even you, you know who you are – the one dangling precariously off the edge of a mountain – all y’all (real Texas phrase) – know that every September I come to you to ask for your support for Suicide Awareness. I talk to you about the devastating impact suicide has – the lives irrevocably damaged, and I talk to you about the importance of awareness – how you can make a real difference. Then, I invite you to walk with me or make a donation.
However, today I want to talk to you about burgers and ice cream…
…and of course, the aforementioned awareness and how you can make a difference, but hang on, no heavy sighing, this isn’t a bait and switch – go back to the start of that sentence where I said “burgers AND ice cream! I’m leaning heavy on that “and” there.
We’re partnering with Amy’s Ice Creams and Phil’s Ice House for the 5th year in a row! But there’s a catch. We only receive donations if we have at least 50 people check-in at both Amy’s AND Phil’s. When you get there just simply mention the AFSP’s Out of the Darkness Austin Walk and you’ll be checked-in. But don’t forget to go to both Amy’s and Phil’s so we can qualify for the Party Time Donations. The dining room is open for those wanting to eat at the restaurant. But we also encourage you to use their curbside or home delivery services. While supporters will still be able to go inside the restaurants to order and check-in, we encourage supporters to order online and put “American Foundation for Suicide Prevention” in the chef’s notes. If ordering in person, when you get there just simply mention the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and you’ll be checked-in. But don’t forget to go to both Amy’s and Phil’s so we can qualify for the Party Time Donations. Want an extra incentive for you and your team? You got it. There is a chance to have all the donated money credited to your team! How to win the Party Time Funds: Take a picture of you enjoying your burger and ice cream Share your picture on social Media 1) Tag American Foundation for Suicide Prevention – Central Texas 2) Tag Phil’s or Amy’s
The team with the most tagged selfie’s wins!
Pretty easy! So, just to sum it all up (part 2, because who doesn’t love a sequel?!?! Am I right?)
Go to Phil’s Ice House & Amy’s Ice Cream on Burnet Rd. in Austin (address above) to dine in, pick it up, or have it delivered
Order food from bothPhil’s AND Amy’s and let them know it’s for the “AFSP Out of the Darkness Austin Walk” – you can indicate that in the chef’s notes if you’re choosing curbside or delivery.
Take a selfie
Have your friends/family take a selfie
Post that selfie, you gorgeous do gooder who’s out there making a difference, to social media (want to participate but don’t have a social media account? First off, good on you! Second, just send your photo to me and I’ll post it – AFSPJayWalkers at the gmail)
Tag the following:
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention – Central Texas
Phil’s Ice House OR Amy’s Ice Cream
The Jay Walkers
Watching your girlish/boyish figure? Have it delivered to a friend or family member or those folks who are working hard throughout the day? (Just get them to take the photo and post to social media.)
Like AFSP said, they only get the money if there are at least 50 participants. So, come have a burger and some ice cream with me!
I’m taking a moment to confess to you something – something I’m rightly a bit embarrassed about…
You all know the relationship we (FB & I) share is quite complicated. It’s about as unhealthy a co-dependent relationship as they come. In fact, Netflix has a whole documentary about us – The Social Dilemma. Sure, you think it’s about you or your friends and family, but it’s actually my autobiography. All of it.
Y’see, I’ve been living and dying (mostly dying) by reactions (or lack thereof) to my posts.
Normally, that’s ok. I’m not a regular poster. In fact, I’m 100% certain the FB algorithm unceremoniously dumps me at the bottom of everyone’s feed troughs because of that lack of participation,. But that said, I get enough attention to keep me happy and to keep me coming back.
Then I started posting for the annual fundraiser for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, and if you discount the link from the AFSP fundraiser page (which got a ton of attention – thank you, donors!!), I got no response. No really, none. I posted a link to my latest Big Blue Mess post about the cause and nothing. Over a three day period, only one reader came from FB when normally it’s the bulk of my readers. Weird, but ok. I marched on.
I thought, “maybe no one is responding because they’re completely over your sadness – over Jay – over talking about this subject year after year.” I was grasping at straws, trying in vain to fix something I couldn’t understand why it was broken. I decided to push the ridiculous incentives I picked to encourage people to donate hoping that might pick up some attention. Hey, they’re goofy! Who doesn’t like goofiness? “For $10 incentive you can receive a horrible watercolor portrait made by yours truly! A “disaster piece”!” I included samples of my dreadful paintings thinking I’d at least get a pity laugh or two. Nothing.
What the actual…?
My friend Anna stepped in after listening to several whine/rants (whants?) and reacted to those posts as did my friend Julie. Yay, two little reactions to each post. What the…?
I was taking it on the chin. Beyond wanting a reaction and wanting to raise funds for this cause, we’re talking still talking about a life-altering, devastating event, and we’re talking about Jay. My person. My FAVORITE person. The person I still like more than pretty much everyone else. The person for whom I would give up every thing I’ve gained these past 5 years – every friendship I’ve made – every adventure I’ve had – every opportunity I’ve been afforded to just have him walk through my door.
The lack of responses stung.
No one? Seriously??
The indignance of that question resonated through my core, and I chewed on it – really working up a solid mad.
…and that’s when I got a message from Anna this afternoon that basically went something like this. “Hey, I noticed when you’ve been posting that the notifications I receive say that you sent a message to me. I don’t know if this is it, but you might want to check to see who your audience is. I went back and looked – all of them were to Anna – not to “Public” or “Friends” or even “Friends; Except: (not that I would ever prevent someone on my feed from reading something, but y’know… ) I was embarrassed – so much energy spent on being upset over nothing. I thought about Occam’s Razor: Was it more likely that the usual FB suspects unexpectedly abandoned you because they suddenly didn’t want to hear about Jay OR that something went pear-shaped with your posts?
So, my feelings that live on my sleeve are now ironed back down – at least until my next irrational fit where I waste a lot of energy.
But hey, now that I’m sane again, have I mentioned that for $10 you can get an original disaster piece (or original haiku)?? All you have to do is donate that $10 to AFSP. Help make a difference!
September is Suicide Prevention Month – the month when mental health advocates, prevention organizations, survivors, allies, and community members unite to promote suicide prevention awareness. Each year my team, the Jay Walkers, get together to support the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and put a spotlight on this cause, and we’re doing it again this year. But our ultimate success relies on the generosity of people like you who believe mental health is as important as physical health. People who want to remove the stigma that is oftentimes associated with admitting to a mental illness and that can become an obstacle to getting necessary treatment.
Normally, I’d write a pitch about why this cause is important to me, but instead mixing it up this year.
…you get to choose from one of these many fine incentives:
$5 – A “thank you” shoutout on my social media accounts letting everyone know how awesome you are, because you are!
$10 – Your choice of:
A watercolor portrait of you or your pet. DISCLAIMER: I don’t know how to paint. Seriously, think of it as a disaster-piece, but hey it’s from the heart.
An original haiku. DISCLAIMER: I’m also rubbish at poetry, but again… from the heart!
$15 – Your choice of:
An AFSP Out of the Darkness Wristband (yellow band with blue lettering)
An AFSP You Are Not Alone button
$25 – A bad recap of your favorite movie/book on TikTok featuring my friend Anna and me! There may be props! There may be costumes!!! Who knows? The only thing I can guarantee is that it will be terrible! Think Siskel and Ebert, but like if they were really bad at their jobs – then imagine something 10x worse.
$50 – One entry to win a gift bundle – each additional $50 up to $250 will give you additional entries. Must be in the Greater Austin area or able to come to Austin to get this incentive. Here’s what’s included:
Gift certificate for Georgetown Pie Co. – donated in memory of Erika DeBrabander (1996-2021)
A Hand Crafted Candle by Bug Makes Candles – wine inspired scents donated by Bug, a crafty 17 year old
A Batch of Cookies – donated by my lovely and talented cousin, Kimberly – one of the best bakers I know
Gift Certificate for Lark & Owl Booksellers – a really cool independent book store and bistro founded by women in Georgetown
$75 – A batch of cookies – cookies made by Kimberly – (must be in the Greater Austin area for delivery/pick-up – trust me)
$150 – Hangout w/ Beth: Nerd Style Options!
Ever wanted to try D&D? Now’s your chance! Guest Star in a D&D Campaign – Homemade BBQ by Jim (Friends/Family Only)
D&D not your thing but board games are? Come play board games with a pack of board game lovin’ nerds? Now’s your chance! You, me, and a bunch of my friends will go to Emerald Tavern, play games, and I’ll buy you a pint. I’m really terrible. You’ll likely win. Who doesn’t like winning?
VR Sandbox – You pick the adventure and let’s go play a VR game!
Archery at Central Texas Archery – Grab your bow or borrow theirs, and let’s go shoot arrows (you must have completed the First Time class at CTA)
All donations come with the warm fuzzies of knowing you did something awesome. Whether you donated $1 or $200, you’ve made a statement that mental health is important and making an important impact on your community.
Do it for Erika and Austin (my close friend’s partner), who we lost in 2021.
To My Team & Everyone Else (I’m all inclusive like that!):
The Central Texas Out of the Darkness Experience (aka the Walk) – “a journey of remembrance, hope, and support that unites our communities and provides an opportunity to acknowledge the ways in which suicide and mental illness have affected our lives and the lives of those we love and care about” is this Saturday, October 24th.
The walk officially runs between the hours of 9 AM to 1 PM.
You choose your location, the distance you want to travel (a good time to check that mailbox or meander over to the 7-11 (Wag-a-bag if you’re in the Round Rock area – you do you, you special ray of walking sunshine)), and your start time. This year you won’t have to search around for a parking spot or fight the crowds downtown. This year you support a cause in your own way – just make it Saturday or lie about it later. Who will know? (Your conscience. That’s who will know.)
Have you wanted to join, but not felt like hassling with the official website?
Well, my friend I have a deal for you! You can now join my team off the books. (Psst, you always could. You knew that, right?) What can I say? I mean, call me magnanimous, benevolent, generous, altruistic, kind, incredibly damn sexy – you could go on and on, I know. No seriously, go on – keep that flattery coming. I mean, I’ve never actually had my own sycophant, so consider this your audition. Genuflect? Why, thank you! Who am I to insist you stand? Just avoid the hassle of officially signing-up to walk for my team. Online forms, am I right? And don’t give a second thought to the fact that I want the biggest team, nor that I will judge you if we’re #2 in number of walkers and your laziness kept me from another framed award. Hey, at least you’re saving yourself from an unsolicited email or 500 by joining that way AND you’re still walking. I’m here for you.
BUT whether you’re an official walker or one of the more covert, off-the books walker, here’s my ask (serious face now):
Send me a photo of you walking that day. This will be used in a post-walk collage. I may post it, so if you don’t want your image shared, let me know. I do still want to see your face.
I want to do a video where my walkers (you) pass something to another person. This can be related to the walk, your feelings, or Jay. If you’d like to participate, here’s my ask:
You receive the item from the right (a heart, a candle, a photo of Jay (contact me if you need a photo) or whatever you want to do.
You pass your item to the left
You say why you’re walking (or you can be silent, too), but if you choose to speak think of saying something along the lines of why you walk. It could be fairly simple/short: “I walk to raise awareness.” “I walk for Jay.” “I walk to keep Beth from hunting me down and giving me the socially distant stink eye.” Or say whatever you feel – it could be the lyric of a song, a poem (I dig slam poetry), you could sing, play an instrument – go crazy (please, don’t go crazy – that would be wildly inappropriate)
Hold each movement for a beat or two: The receiving action, the holding the item for the camera action, and then the passing action.
The video should be between 5-10 seconds (unless you’re singing, you sing! Take all the time you need! You’ll likely be the feature, and I will genuinely applaud you – seriously, I would – I’m not opposed to someone more talented and creative doing something bigger – if it comes from the heart, it will be amazing)
The video can be filmed on your phone. I will provide upload info – just let me know you have the video ready.
Let me know if you will participate in this part.
Are you ready to walk on Saturday?!?
Also, real quick: a huge thanks guys for making this virtual walk so successful – whether you’ve agreed to be a walker, you’ve donated to AFSP, or you’ve sent words of encouragement. It’s all appreciated!
I love you guys! You’re the best! Especially you. You’ve always been my favorite.
As many of you may have noticed after my writing 1000 million posts (you’re quite observant), for the past three years I’ve organized a team to raise money for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. This year I had some big ideas for fundraising, but thanks to a global pandemic (thanks, Covid!!!) I struggled with creativity.
However, my friends Anna and Jonathan did not!! (They never do. Show offs.)
Please enjoy their fundraising video for AFSP and the Out of the Darkness Walk below. It’s clever and it also features some of my very favorite people and nephews!
It’s not too late to donate. For $3 you get one of these lovely mask lanyards in 100’s (9) colors! Information for making a donation can be found in the description on the YouTube video site. Just scroll down!