Out of Darkness Walk honors those lost, raises funds

By Allison Marlow
Posted 9/13/17

Lydia Barber’s world fell apart on a Wednesday morning.

A local police officer and a preacher arrived at her house to tell her that her oldest son, Allen Barber, a freshman at the University of …

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Out of Darkness Walk honors those lost, raises funds

Posted

Lydia Barber’s world fell apart on a Wednesday morning.

A local police officer and a preacher arrived at her house to tell her that her oldest son, Allen Barber, a freshman at the University of Montevallo, had died by a self-inflected gunshot wound.

That is the day, Barber said, “the nightmare began.”

She began living life day by day, moment by moment as she, her husband, and their other two sons picked up the pieces. Well-meaning friends began mentioning a walk. Barber dismissed them. Not now. Not yet.

Today, Barber is the local organizer of the Out of the Darkness Walk, held every October in Daphne. The annual event is a fundraiser for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Barber’s first walk, 7 years ago, was put together in a month’s time and drew 250 participants and raised $10,000.

Last year the walk hosted 650 walkers and raised $40,000. Walks are held in 350 locations across the nation each fall.

“It’s a great thing for people who have been affected by suicide to come together,” Barber said.

There is a memory wall for participants to place photos of loved ones they have lost to suicide. There will also be information booths about suicide prevention and counseling. Barber said the two mile-trek is more of a stroll than a powerwalk. At the end a cloud of butterflies is released in memory of those who have been lost.

For Barber the walk is a way to give a voice to something many people won’t discuss openly.

“Ten years ago people were not talking about suicide that much. Thanks to AFSP and peer groups and the walk people are coming out and talking about it,” she said. “The main goal to me is to raise money and show everybody it is ok to say, ‘I need help’.”

Helping others, Barber said, is the best way to honor her son’s legacy. Allen Barber, a graduate of Daphne High School, was an entertainer. During his teen years he was part of the high school’s chorus and musical performances. In college he was the only freshman to be chosen for the school’s elite chorus. He passed away Oct. 27, 2010.

“I don’t know why people think the most complex organ in our body cannot have something go wrong with it,” Barber said. “That’s what depression is, it’s a chemical imbalance, and you do need to get help if you feel you need to. It’s ok to ask for help.”