GALWAY — A local memorial 5K has been asking for a different kind of donation this year in honor of a Galway High School student who took his life in 2003.
The sixth annual Andrew C. Izzo memorial 5K has the mission to not only preserve the memory of Andrew C. Izzo, but to raise awareness for suicide and mental health issues in high school age kids and young adults.
“We want to help spread the message of suicide awareness. It’s okay to talk about it, and it’s very important to deal with mental health issues and not put them aside or sweep them under the rug,” said John Izzo, Andrew’s father.
The 5K-memorial run has not only gone virtual this year, but is asking for an unusual fee: an act of kindness.
“Everyone is struggling out there and not everyone has the extra money to go donating to different places and a lot of people are in need,” Izzo said. “The cost for the 5k this year is there is no actual monetary cost. The cost is to go out and do good for somebody. Perform an act of kindness for someone and let us know about it. And that’s the cost.”
Participants are encouraged to share their 5K “fee” via email or online and responses will be shared at the end of the event. While the 5K began on Sept. 18, interested community members can participate until Oct. 1, which is the last day.
Izzo is paying his 5K fee by walking or hiking each day the two week event is happening.
“Granted its not running, but I’m walking in different places in the capital district or doing hikes in the Adirondacks. Each one I do at least 3.1 miles, which is a 5K,” Izzo said.
Tuesday marked the fifth day Izzo has supported the event. As his act of kindness and to help raise awareness, he ventured out to Saratoga where he met up some friends in the military. As a former military member, Izzo spoke with them about the importance of mental health awareness and completed a 5K.
Izzo has shared videos each day on the event's Facebook page as well. In them he shares encouraging words along with ideas for your own act of kindness.
Last year the event attracted over 300 participants, and while they hoped for a bigger year, the family and committee knew moving the 5K online along with changing their fee was the best decision.
Memorial committee members created the event one year after Andrew Izzo committed suicide at the age of 17. Izzo said his son was well known in the community as an outstanding athlete.
“He was very well known in the community, primarily sports and athletics in school. As a result, that’s where the 5K came from. A lot of the people involved with sports programs got together and wanted to do something,” Izzo said.
Izzo wanted to highlight the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. He said their resources, programs and support helped him and his family cope with Andrew’s passing and recommends AFSP for anyone in the community.
To find out more about the 5K event visit www.fund4andrew.org or their facebook page at www.facebook.com/andrewizzomemorialfund. AFSP can be visited at afsp.org.