Out of the darkness
Young student raising awareness
by Kevin Mertz
MILTON — Seven-year-old Kiflyn Hockenbrock sat quietly by her mother Dawn Hockenbrock’s side, grinning from ear-to-ear, as Dawn spoke on the pride she has for her daughter, who has launched a fundraising effort to support a worthwhile cause.
Kiflyn, a second-grade student at Baugher Elementary School, will be participating in the Out of the Darkness Community Walk, to benefit the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Sunday, Oct. 16, at Lycoming College in Williamsport. She will be joined at the walk by a team of friends and family.
To raise funds for the walk, Kiflyn is spearheading a Chinese auction, to be held starting at 11 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 8, at the New Columbia Civic Center, located on Third Street in New Columbia.
Prevention of suicide is a cause close to Kiflyn’s heart. Her father, Cody Lahr, passed away as the result of a suicide in November 2009.
Dawn said her daughter has been traveling with her to a number of local businesses seeking donations for the auction.
“(I’m) very proud,” Dawn said of Kiflyn. “She’s shy. For her to go out to do this is amazing.”
Dawn said Kiflyn is also growing as a person by heading up the fundraiser.
“She’s learning there’s a lot of people who have the same issues, people who lost people to this issue,” Dawn said. “She’s not alone.”
She said Lahr had been diagnosed with a borderline personality disorder. In the days leading up to his suicide, a number of bad things had happened in his life, including a death in the family.
“It was too much (for him),” Dawn said.
She said Kiflyn is learning that it’s OK to talk about suicide and she hopes others realize that as well.
“(Suicide) is not something that’s really talked about,” Dawn continued. “It’s hush hush sometimes when something like this happens. It’s OK to talk about it. It’s OK to miss her dad or whomever it happened to.”
She said one of the goals of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is to get the word out that help is available for those who may be considering suicide and need support in their life.
Dawn said her daughter has had a strong support system since her father’s death.
Anonymous community members made a blanket for Kiflyn using fabric from T-shirts which had been worn by Lahr. A similar blanket was also crafted for Kiflyn’s younger sister, Laney Lahr.
Dawn said the blanket “means a lot” to Kiflyn.
“She slept with it the first couple of nights,” Dawn said. “It’s nice to have that constant reminder.”
She’s thankful for the community members who made the blanket. Members of the United Methodist Church in New Columbia also made pillows made out of Lahr’s jackets for his children, Dawn said.
She and Kiflyn are thankful for the various community members who are assisting in Kiflyn’s efforts to raise funds for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
The family recently received notification that the Local 38 Union will be donating $500 to the cause.
“When we got the call about the $500, we about fell over,” Dawn said. “It is amazing. When I’ll go out and ask people for donation, people will say ‘I knew someone’ (who was a suicide victim).”
Items that will be a part of the Chinese auction include Vera Bradley items, a night’s stay at the Comfort Inn in New Columbia, a lottery tree and at least 50 gift certificates to local businesses.
Team members participating in the walk with Kiflyn and Dawn include: Stephanie Kreps, Jose Castro, Kristy Dreisbach, Kristy Foster, Courtney Haas, Millie Hockenbrock, Michelle Kashuba, Amanda Kiessling, Laney Lahr, Teresa Lahr, Jessica Reich, Donna Schaffer, Becca Stevenson and Genie Ficks.
For more information on the walk or the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, visit http://afsp.donordrive.com.