Two Clarkson University graduates are raising awareness and funds for suicide prevention this summer through a community hike of mountains across the country.
Kolby Ziemendorf '14 and Catherine Ziemendorf '14 originally set out to climb all 46 High Peaks during National Suicide Prevention Week to symbolize the challenges of conquering depression and suicide.
Now in its fifth year, the organization 46Climbs has grown to include hundreds of hikers from around the United States and this year aims to raise $70,000 for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
46Climbs invites hikers -- from first-timers to professionals – to register to climb a mountain or group of mountains from the Friday before Labor Day weekend through National Suicide Prevention Week, August 30 through September 8.
Among the groups participating in the event is the Clarkson University Outing Club (CUOC). The club raised more than $2,400 for 46Climbs last year and their goal is to raise $4,600 this year. This year, they are also joined by the Golden Knight Battalion Army ROTC and Clarkson University Alumni teams.
Last year, a total of 408 people from across the United States hiked the combined equivalent of climbing Mt Everest 101 times to symbolize overcoming their struggles with suicide and mental health. The community raised more than $60,000 for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention to be used for research, education, advocacy and help for those in need.
"Aside from the large impact we had through fundraising, the actions of these people greatly impacted the communities in ways that cannot be quantified," Kolby Ziemendorf said. "Climbing mountains smashes the stigma that normally surrounds mental health and suicide, and once again gave the opportunity for people to speak about their loss or illness in an extremely positive light."
Both Kolby and Catherine have known people touched by depression and suicide. After the suicides of high school classmates and later suicide attempts of friends, Kolby said he developed 46Climbs in 2014 with the goal of preventing others from suffering.
To learn more about the event, register a climb or make a donation, visit http://46climbs.com .