On Saturday, a crowd of nearly 800 gathered on the narrow pedestrian path leading out of Bonita Canyon Sports Park for a 2-mile hike on behalf of Patrick’s Purpose Foundation, an organization that raises awareness about the importance of speaking up about issues. of mental health experienced by adolescents. .
Those who participated in the fourth annual Walk With Us event finally returned to the greenbelt that winds through the center of Newport Beach’s Harbor View suburb.
Patrick’s Purpose Foundation was created by the family of the late Patrick (“Patty”) Turner, who committed suicide shortly after his 16th birthday on December 21, 2017. The hope was to not only honor his life and legacy, but also to raise awareness of the adolescent suicide and advocate for the social changes he desired.
The first year after Patrick’s death, his parents, Kim and John Turner, wanting to do something, decided to hire the TK Burger truck to come to the park near their house to honor him.
“We spread the word to Corona del Mar High School students, friends and family and on the last day of school before Christmas break about 150 children, friends and family attended,” said Kim Turner. “We had such a great turnout that we thought maybe we should create a walk, similar to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Now we do a walk every year as close to his birthday as possible.”
Patrick’s sentiments in a final message are shared on the foundation’s website, patrickspurposefoundation.org.
“There is a lot of pressure on children to do good, and many children make mistakes. A slip makes a child feel like the smallest person in the world. Everyone talks about how cool they are or how cool their kids are. It’s about how big I am. It’s never about the other kid. The kid who may not play a sport, has a 4.0+ GPA, but shows great character… No one can understand what people may be going through. Be kind to everyone, and most importantly, be inclusive. If there is a child who is alone, it never hurts to sit with him or ask him how he is.
Michele Bethel, a Harbor View neighbor and friend of the Turner family, became a board member of the Patrick’s Purpose Foundation as a way to support the effort.
“When the Turner family suffered his loss, the community came together as a whole when Patrick took his own life,” Bethel said. “I felt that having children of the same age was very important to get the message across by getting more involved and just offering what else we can do to honor Patrick’s memory.
“It’s a unique neighborhood, we all felt very close here with neighbors and friends involved in similar activities, our husbands even trained together,” she said.
The close-knit neighborhood looks out for one another with an underlying obligation to support all children in the community.
Bethel explained that the walks have provided an opportunity to talk on a deeper level about personal experience. Participants share why they’re there, which she finds sometimes overwhelming because everyone seems to know someone who has experienced mental health issues as a teenager.
“It’s very important for us to talk about mental health, even at a young age,” Bethel said.
She recalled a mother who brought her young children to the 2021 Patrick’s Purpose walk. The woman had no specific connection to the community in general or the Turners in particular, but felt it was important to bring her children to the event.
“Well, I saw her again today after she finished the walk eating burgers with her three kids on the grass and I went to say hi to them because I recognized them from last year,” Bethel said. “She shared that since last year’s walk, one of her son’s friends took his own life. She said they will come to the walk every year from now on in support and to spread awareness.”
A classmate of Turner’s CoM, Winston Bowyer, now 21, started an official Patrick’s Purpose organization for students at Texas Christian University to value life and prevent suicide.
“When he passed, I reached out to the Turner family, and as a way to reverse one of the worst tragedies, I wanted to make something positive come out of it,” Bowyer said. “I knew Patrick in high school because we both had crazy curly hair. He was new to the school and he made me feel welcome and at home and he took care of me.”
Also participating in the walk on Saturday was local resident Imogen Miramadi. She said that she was there alone this year because her son was out of the country.
“My son knew him from CdM, and that had a profound impact on him and on us,” Miramadi said. “Now every time I pass the baseball field, every time I say hello to Patrick.”