SHINGLEHOUSE — Makenzie Good considers herself a really close friend of Austin Lancenese, a 17-year-old Galeton resident who died by suicide in June. After hearing of his death, she wanted to organize a walk that visits all of Austin’s favorite places in Shinglehouse to help raise money and awareness for suicide prevention. That walk was held at Assembly Park in Shinglehouse this past Saturday.
Makenzie said Austin had an amazing personality that always made her smile and laugh. Austin liked to play basketball in the area and loved being outdoors. To remember how much Austin liked the outdoors, Makenzie wanted to share the places they would visit together with people who participated in the walk.
Money raised from the walk will be donated to Yellow Ribbon Suicide Prevention. As of Aug. 4, the amount collected from the walk was around $1,100. The total amount will be announced at a later date.
Makenzie said it was hard to assemble this event, but she liked how more than 2,500 people reached out to her to tell her that the walk was a good thing. Makenzie hopes to make this walk an annual event in hopes to continue raising awareness and money for those who need it through the Yellow Ribbon Suicide Prevention organization.
“My favorite part of the walk is this one tree that he always tore pieces off of because it was dead,” Makenzie said. She shared that they would visit that tree often and he loved sitting by the water next to the tree.
Makenzie learned from this experience that everything can happen quickly.
“You need to be thankful for everyone that you do have in your life and I am just thankful that I get to spread his memory with all these people,” Makenzie said. She is thankful for all the people who have reached out to her and for all the people who participated in the walk.
Tammy Lancenese, Austin’s mother, along with other family members, participated in the walk to remember their loved one.
“It is extremely important to be aware of suicide. Even if your kids don’t show anything, still check up on them once in a while. Make sure your kids are okay,” Tammy Lancenese said.
Tammy Lancenese said that Austin, who was 17 when he died, did not show any signs of having trouble. Austin’s mother said she felt closer to Austin through the walk. She liked seeing where he went everyday and left his mark. Tammy Lancenese learned how precious life can be. Alexis Lancenese, Austin’s sister, shared that she learned not to take life for granted and to live every day like it is your last.
Tammy Lancenese set up a sports memorial scholarship for Austin at the Galeton school. She sells baked goods along with other fundraising products to help raise money for the scholarship. Tammy Lancenese sold some of her products during the walk and will also be having a booth set up at the fall fest in Galeton on Sept. 26.
If you are having a mental health crisis, resources are available. In Potter County, the Dickinson Center has a crisis line, 814-274-8729, Monday-Thursday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m. and Fridays 8 a.m.-4 p.m. After hours, call 1-877-724-7142. The National Suicide Prevention Hotline number is 800-273-8255.