Teams and Walkers

Select A Team:

Register Log In
Edit in profile section

Please see my TEAM page- TEAM H.O.P.E.

Juanita Benitez

Juanita Benitez

This upcoming Alive and Running will be my 6th event. My name is Juanita, I am team captain of Team H.O.P.E. which stands for Hold On Pain Ends.

The first event in 2013 was extremely difficult for me. My sunglasses did not leave my face. I cried and cried. During speeches before the run, I was just in a state of shock. I didn’t believe how many people are affected by this stigma. I wasn’t alone on how I was feeling.

I lost my Dad in 2005. I am the one who found him. I can still re-play everything from that night step by step. My dad’s suicide had major impact on my family. My mom was a wreck because she suddenly just lost her soul mate. My brother couldn’t think straight but tried to put on his poker face for my mom and me. And as for me, I was crushed! The last thing I did before losing my dad was get into a huge fight with him. I felt beyond guilty about my dad’s death. I still feel a little bit of guilt til this day.

Then in 2012 I experienced another suicide in my family. My brother, who was literally my other half, my dad figure, my best friend...took his own life! There was no indication he was depressed, let alone sad. I spoke to him just two days prior and we had made plans to go to the Art Walk the following weekend. But on June 5th, something in my gut told me I just lost a big part of me. Something wasn’t right, something was wrong and I didn’t know what. I texted my brother “good morning” and never got a response. That was not like him, especially with me. My brother and I literally talked daily through phone, text or in person. I drove straight to his house after work. I rang the bell over and over again. I banged on the door until my hands were red. Still no answer. A neighbor noticed that the upstairs window was unlocked. I gave him permission to go inside. When I heard the words, “ I don’t know how to tell you this,” chills ran down my arms. I fell to the ground and began to cry. I already knew. I begged for his neighbor to say he was just passed out drunk. But that was not the case. My brother and best friend, a bright and spirited person, was gone for good.

Everyone grieves differently. But these are the steps that I have gone through so far:

Denial: “This can’t be happening to me or someone in my life.”
Anger: “Why is this happening? Who is to blame?”
Depression: “I’m too sad to do anything.”
Acceptance: “I’m at peace with what happened.”

I am still struggling with the “acceptance” part. But being a part of Didi Hirsch’s Alive and Running 5K Walk/Run for Suicide Prevention has made it a little bit easier. Hearing other people’s stories and seeing how brave they are makes me want to tell my story. Everyone here has experienced stigma, whether they lost someone to suicide or are the one dealing with suicidal thoughts. But no one here is alone. I can honestly say without hesitation that I have been in both shoes. I have lost two people I loved dearly to suicide and have also been the one who has thought about it.

If you knew my brother, my dad or me, you would have never thought we were “that kind of person.” But thats just it, there is no “that kind”. People everywhere have experienced some sort of depression and some have just reached their breaking point. It’s nothing you expect, nothing you wish for. I’ll tell you this though: if you notice even the slightest bit of change in someone’s behavior, PUT YOURSELF OUT THERE…LEND A HAND, A SMILE :) OR JUST A HUG!!! Just the littlest thing CAN brighten someone’s whole day! I hope someday my story can let people know they are not alone!

I never expected to lose two people so close to my heart and I wouldn’t wish this pain on anyone. I encourage people to come and support this event and help erase this stigma. You will hear and read so many heartfelt stories. And also have the support from so many people! They aren’t meant to make you feel sad, but to help you recognize the signs—the ones many people telling their stories didn’t see until it was too late.


raised of $500 goal

Recent Donations

1. Juanita Benitez

Team H.O.P.E.