SHERRARD, Ill. — The Sherrard FFA Chapter on Sunday, April 10, hosted its third annual The Mom Friend Project fundraiser to raise awareness for mental health and suicide prevention.
The event was created three years ago in honor of a Sherrard student who died by suicide. Students at Sunday's event said he was the "mom friend" of the group.
"We thought that maybe if he had enough resources that maybe we could have helped him," said Sherrard FFA Chapter president Briar Viager. "So now we are trying to prevent suicide in the future."
This year, Sherrard also teamed up with Rockridge's FFA chapter.
"Hosting events like this helps to end the stigma around mental health, showing everyone that we can be together and talk about it," said Rockridge FFA Chapter member Kierney McDonald. "I think it's a great way to start and make that message a little easier to talk about."
Students spent months planning the fundraiser, which included a silent auction, a bags tournament, rock painting, and sunflower planting. Sunflowers are a symbol of mental health.
All the money raised at the event will be split between the Sherrard and Rockridge school districts to help provide mental health support options.
Co-chair of the event, Ryley Zippe, said he was happy to see so many people in the community there.
"It's a really good feeling, because you know people are getting help if they need it," Zippe said. "And we're providing them a source for it."
Rockridge students involved with the Gray Matters Collective also helped with the event.
"I went to school everyday and I saw my friends who were struggling with mental health issues," said student leader Amelia Rush. "I think it's just so important because as soon as you talk about it, somebody knows that they're not alone and that can save a life."
T-shirts with the slogan "You Matter." were also sold at the event.
Sherrard raised $4,500 during its last two events.