Runners bring light for Desperate Tears

Runners taking part in the first-ever Light the Night head through the pedestrian tunnel into Driesner Park Friday night. The run was a benefit for Desperate Tears. Eric Johnson/photodesk@austindailyherald.com

More than 150 people lit the night with glowsticks, flashlights and even a few pumpkins Friday, as organizers deemed the first Light the Night 5K Walk/Run a success.

“I’m overwhelmed,” said Kristi Stasi, fitness director at the YMCA of Austin. Stasi and Desperate Tears founder Shelley LeTendre organized the walk/run after almost a year and a half of discussing it.

Desperate Tears, the local suicide prevention group, has held numerous concerts, runs and other events with local organizations like the Community Against Bullying to raise awareness and to positively affect community members. LeTendre and others participated in the first-ever Darren Dash earlier this summer, and some of the organizers from that event got together to create Light the Night.

“It’s really great to see so many people support us,” LeTendre said.

Sisters Marissa (5) and Cassidy Shute (7) wait to take part in Friday night's Light the Night benefit run for Desperate Tears.

Some were excited for a night run, like Paul Bartemes. Yet Bartemes, like many others, was running to support Desperate Tears in its efforts to help people with depression and offer suicide prevention outreach.

“Depression is a big issue,” said Bartemes, who is a social worker with Mower County. “We need lots of support in this area,”

Though the total funds raised won’t be tallied up for a day or two, Light the Night organizers say the event clearly was a success, due in no small part to last-minute Halloween decorations, lights, and even a few spooky actors from Grace Lutheran Church. In short, the race will most likely illuminate the Austin area again.

“We’re planning on doing this again next year,” LeTendre said with a smile.

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