Lauren Maynard and her family raised $8,345 for the Arkansas chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention as part of her 5K and 1 Mile Be the Light Walk, held outside of the HPER Center at UCA on Feb. 8 in honor of her brother Cameron, who committed suicide in August of 2019.
On what would have been Cameron’s 19th birthday, 231 people came out on a chilly Saturday morning to show their support to the Maynard family as they raised money in support of suicide awareness.
Cameron was always known as a selfless person, even when he was growing up. Lauren recalled on numerous occasions, that Cameron would give his lunch to kids who could not afford one of their own even though it meant he wouldn’t be able to eat that day. In elementary school, he would make an effort to play with everyone on the playground just so no one felt excluded. It’s acts like these that show the true character of a person because no one expected him to do any of them. He simply did it because he cared for people.
“Literally our last Christmas together, all he asked for was a bottle of shampoo and a pack of batteries because ‘that’s all he needed.’ Cameron had a true heart of gold,” Lauren said.
When planning for his future after high school, he had planned on attending Southern Arkansas University to get his bachelors of science in business management and then attend graduate school at Harding University to study ministry so that he could do mission work once he graduated which he had a tremendous passion for.
When Lauren had found out that Cameron had passed, not only did she lose one of her best friends, but she was also hours aways because her family lives in Texas. Luckily for Lauren, her Delta Zeta family was there for her every step of the way and helped her get through such a traumatic experience.
“Delta Zeta has, no exaggeration, been my lifeline the past few months since losing my brother. That moment, that phone call was the absolute most heartbroken and life shattering moment of my 21 years of life, especially since I was 3 1/2 hours from home. It was my fiancé, and my DZ sisters who literally picked me up and got me back to my hometown to be with my family,” Lauren said.
“It was a DZ sister who hugged me and wiped my tears as I wrote my speech to give the eulogy at my baby brother's funeral, and it was Delta Zeta women who had wiped my tears, hugged me and encouraged me far outside my comfort zone and sadness to organize the 5K and to take a hard time in my life and use it to teach and inspire others. I can truly say that if I did not have Delta Zeta and the women as a part of my life, I wouldn’t be here today.”
Angela Driskill, a physician from Little Rock and family friend of the Maynard’s, was one of the many runners who came out on Saturday to show support to the family and help bring awareness to a serious issue in suicide prevention.
“In the past, there has been some shame associated with that suicide] and there shouldn’t be at all. The grief that goes along with suicide is really oppressive and difficult,” Driskill said. “I’ve always told my kids that there is a better way, there’s always a plan b. If you need help then get help and someone will walk that road with you.”
Lauren has tried to take the sourest of life’s lemons and turn it into something sweet with the 5k being just the beginning for what she has planned. She never expected to lose her brother when he was only 18 years old with his whole life ahead of him, but she is using her story as a way to start a conversation in hopes that people can learn from her experience.
She acknowledges that most people like to only show the positives of their lives and what they want them to be on social media, but that it’s time to be open and honest with ourselves and others with what is going on behind closed doors because no one should feel like they have to hold those feelings in.
If you or anyone you know is dealing with depression or suicidal thoughts, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. If you would like to donate to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, a donation link can be found at asfp.org.