If you or someone you know is in immediate danger of harming themselves, please call 911. If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, call the U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988 or text “WYO” to 741-741 for the Crisis Text Line.
GILLETTE, Wyo. — More than 150 people gathered Sept. 9 for a fundraiser for suicide prevention and recovery in Campbell County, event organizer and Campbell County Community Prevention Specialist Ashley McRae said today.
The second annual Lip Sync Battle fundraiser, which took place in CAM-PLEX’s Energy Hall Ballroom, raised more than $7,000 for the Campbell County Suicide Prevention Coalition, she said.
Proceeds support programming, educational materials, counseling and mental health medications, according to a letter to sponsors. Funds help families impacted by suicide through offsetting the costs of cleanup, rent, hotels and counseling.
McRae said she appreciates the support from the community.
“Suicide is something that impacts so many of us, and it is difficult to talk about, so the fact that we had so many people there to support the cause brings me to tears,” she said. “Not only do we create awareness, we also remember those who lost their lives to suicide.”
She hopes the event will be even bigger and better in 2024.
Office of Economic Transformation Director of Diversification Rusty Bell, Campbell County Coroner Paul Wallem, Shekinah Clinical Spa owner JoJo Bucholz and suicide loss survivor Candace Martinez judged the competition, McRae said. Competitors included State Sen. Eric Barlow, R-23, and his yak calf Yolanda; Gillette Mayor Shay Lundvall; and McRae’s daughter, Kaylee McRae.
Kaylee, who synced Em Beihold’s “Numb Little Bug,” won the competition. At 12 years old, she was also the youngest competitor. Lundvall dressed up as “Maui” from Moana and lip-synced “You’re Welcome.” During a break in the program, dozens of children and adults gathered to pet Yolanda.
Denton Knapp, whose son Brandon died in 2006, was also among those who attended the event.
He said the toughest part about mental health is breaking the stigma to enable conversation. The fundraiser event is an opportunity for awareness and sharing.
“We focus on working out our physical bodies, but rarely do we put the same time and effort into our mental well-being. … We suffer from a lack of providers, but also a lack of understanding,” he said. “Each of us as a family member, friend and co-worker plays an incredible part in enabling those suffering with mental health to seek counseling and assistance. We lost our son Brandon to suicide in 2006, and his passing by suicide has greatly affected our lives to focus on what is most important. Communication leads to relationships, and relationships lead to trust.”
Anyone who wants to make a donation can drop off or mail a check to Campbell County Public Health, 2301 S. 4-J Road, Gillette, McRae said. For more information on buying T-shirts or getting involved in the organization, contact McRae at 307-257-1346 or Ashley.McRae@campbellcountywy.gov.