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On Saturday, the Liberty High School National Honor Society will host its first Stride Against Suicide 5K, an event the student group hopes will be the beginning of a tradition.

“This was something that was personal to all of us, and we wanted a way to get the community — and particularly Liberty High School students — involved,” said Sammie Spargo, a Liberty senior and president of the National Honor Society. “We are hoping that after this year the National Honor Society of next year will continue this race and make it an annual thing.”

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This run-or-walk event will be held at 9 a.m. in Freedom Park, at 100 Raincliffe Road in Sykesville, though people may arrive as early as 8 a.m., according to Spargo.

“We’re going to have someone from the community who has actual experience with a family member who passed away from suicide who will be talking at the event before the race,” she said. “Then we’re going to have some Liberty students sing the national anthem, and then the race will begin.”

Race registration is $20 prior to race day and is available at Tri Sport Junction, at 7568 Main St. B in Sykesville, or $25 on race day at the event.

Proceeds will go to benefit the American Foundation for the Prevention of Suicide, according to Spargo.

“We will have a representative of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention board there,” she said. “They will be handing out pamphlets.”

Suicide is the 10th-leading cause of death in the U.S., according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data, Spargo notes, and that combined with personal experience was one reason why she, along with the rest of the National Honors Society, wanted to organize this event.

“There’s a family friend of mine who passed away from suicide,” she said. "We just wanted a way to educate people about what’s going on, make them more aware of what’s going on, so they can help those that need it."

And with the race just around the corner, they have received a lot of support, both in terms of registered participants and support from the local business community.

“We actually have about 140 people signed up total, and we have a good deal of sponsors,” Spargo said. “We also have Dunkin’ Donuts providing us with coffee and doughnuts, we have bagels from Kismet, we have a whole bunch of food. We have a raffle. We just wanted a way for it to be fun and engaging, but educating people as well.”

The post-race raffle will include gift cards to local businesses including Chipotle, E. W. Beck’s and Tri Sport Junction.

But ultimately, Spargo said, she hopes people will consider coming out to learn about and support their community in grappling with the reality of the loss of people to suicide.

“Not only is it something that more people need to be aware of, I think it’s important to acknowledge that it exists, we can’t ignore it, and we need to be there for those who are struggling with thoughts of suicide now or who know people who have passed away,” she said. “It’s just being there for someone, and I think that’s really important.”

If you go

What: Inaugural Liberty High School National Honor Society Stride Against Suicide 5K

When: 9 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 7; registration begins at 8 a.m.

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Where: Freedom Park, 100 Raincliffe Road, Sykesville

Cost: $20 in advance at Tri Sport Junction, 7568 Main St. B in Sykesville, or $25 at the event

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