The Mountmellick couple behind Laois' Darkness into Light walk on May 7, hope to open a Pieta House suicide counselling centre in Laois.
The uplifting 5km dawn walk on Saturday, May 7, is one of over 100 across the world this year for Pieta House, with the Laois event organised by John and Susan Nelson.
Since 2012 they has raised over €45,000 for Pieta House, which gives free professional counselling to those experiencing thoughts of suicide, or self harming.
Last year 1,400 walkers took part in Laois, raising €28,000 for Pieta House's nine centres across Ireland, but Susan feels the distance is a difficulty for Laois people seeking support.
“People from Laois still have to travel to Roscrea or Dublin, that’s an added stress, so I am going to try look for a Pieta House for Laois,” she said.
With several recent tragic suicides in Laois, the walk is as much to support the bereaved, as it is to raise funds.
“It is always a very emotional event, for those grieving and those affected by suicide. We will have a memory table where people can place photos of their loved ones, a memory tree for messages, and our Banner of Hope to sign,” Susan said.
Over 300 people have already registered online to take part in Laois, a sign that it could be the biggest yet.
Participants can also register and collect a t-shirt at a stand in SuperValu, Mountmellick on April 27 and 28, and May 4 and 5, between 3pm to 8pm.
People are asked to arrive early to Mountmellick GAA grounds in Acragar, where the walk begins and ends.
“We will take late registrations on the night, but that will close at 3.30am, as we want to have time for the Zumba warm-up and the speeches, with the walk starting at 4.15am sharp this year,” said Susan.
Parking is limited at the GAA grounds, but the cemetery, the primary schools and SuperValu are all offering parking this year.
The walk is well supported by local businesses and by residents who place lit candles along the circular route through the town.
Susan thanked businesses, the Civil Defence, volunteers, Mountmellick GAA, SuperValu and all who have again offered support.
“Mountmellick Community School is fantastic every year, they make posters and cards for the memory tree, and made our ‘hope’ sign last year, with a new sign this year,” she said.
She welcomes any offers of refreshments this year.
The walks begin at 4.15am in darkness and cross the finish as dawn breaks, to symbolise the journey out of the darkness of depression.
See www.darknessintolight.ie. or www.pieta.ie.