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'Out Of The Darkness' Walkers Raise Money To Fight Suicide

Walkers who helped raise more than $55,000 for AFSP paused before their walk at Harbor Island. Photo Credit: Provided/AFSP
From left, News 12 Reporter Lisa LaRocca, Claire Zito, AFSP Westchester Chapter Chair Bill Zito, Harrison Supervisor/Mayor Ron Belmont, County Executive Chief of Staff George Oros Photo Credit: Provided/AFSP
AFSP Westchester Chapter Secretary Frank Erlanger leading nearly 600 walkers.over three miles Sunday. Photo Credit: Provided/AFSP
Members of the Larchmont Volunteer Ambulance Corps team at Sunday's fundraising walk. They raised $6,000. Photo Credit: Provided/AFSP

MAMARONECK, N.Y. -- Nearly 600 area residents raised more than $55,000 on Sunday, Oct. 5, during an "Out of the Darkness" walk in Harbor Island Park to raise awareness about mental illness.

"The walk went exceptionally well today,'' said Harrison native Bill Zito, board chairman for the Westchester Chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

Zito said he expected another $10,000 to be collected from matching donations promised by local businesses.

"It was our first year at Harbor Island and the weather and location were in great agreement,'' said ZIto, a retired police officer and now a broadcast journalist.

Zito's wife, Carol Stiers Zito, committed suicide in 2006 at the age of 44, after a decorated career as a police investigator in Hollywood, Fla., and Seattle, Wash.

In the United States, someone commits suicide every 13 minutes, according to AFSP, claiming nearly 40,000 lives annually.

On Sunday, 36 participants walking three miles through the 44-acre park represented the Larchmont Volunteer Ambulance Corps (LVAC) team, raising more than $6,000. Walkers on the team included volunteer Emergency Medical Services members from LVAC, other local EMS workers, as well as their friends and family.

“Suicide is a public health issue that does not discriminate by age, gender, ethnicity, or socioeconomic status,'' said Lt. Grant Nishanian, president of the LVAC. "It takes an enormous toll on family, friends, co-workers and the entire community. Everyone knows someone who has been affected, if they aren’t affected themselves."

Local elected officials also participated, including Mamaroneck Supervisor Nancy Seligson and Harrison Supervisor/Mayor Ron Belmont.

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is the leading national not-for-profit organization exclusively dedicated to understanding and preventing suicide through research, education and advocacy, and to reaching out to people with mental disorders and those impacted by suicide.

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