Clarkson University Alumni Organize 46Climbs National Movement to Hike Mountains for Suicide Prevention
Two Clarkson graduates hope to raise awareness and funds for suicide prevention this summer through a community hike of the 46 High Peaks of New York’s Adirondack Mountains and mountains across the country.
Kolby Ziemendorf ’14 of Penfield, N.Y., and Catherine Zarnofsky ’14 of Glenville, N.Y., originally set out to climb all 46 High Peaks during National Suicide Prevention Week to symbolize the challenges of conquering depression and suicide.
Now in its second year, the organization 46Climbs has grown to include hikers from around the United States and this year aims to raise $50,000 for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
46Climbs invites hikers — from first-timers to professionals – to register to climb a mountain or group of mountains from Labor Day weekend through National Suicide Prevention Week, Sept. 2 through 11.
Among the groups participating in event is the Clarkson University Outing Club (CUOC). The club raised more than $5,000 for 46Climbs last year and succeeded in putting a Clarkson student on all 46 High Peaks during National SuicidePrevention Week in 2015.
Last year, a total of 118 people from across the United States hiked mountains to symbolize overcoming their struggles with suicide and mental health. The community raised more than $29,500 for the American Foundation for SuicidePrevention to be used for research, education, advocacy and help for those in need.
“Aside from the large impact we had through fundraising, the actions of these people greatly impacted the communities in ways that cannot be quantified,” Ziemendorf said. “Climbing mountains smashes the stigma that normally surrounds mental health and suicide, and once again gave the opportunity for people to speak about their loss or illness in an extremely positive light.”
Both Ziemendorf and Zarnofsky have known people touched by depression and suicide. After the suicides of high school classmates and later suicide attempts of friends, Ziemendorf said he developed 46Climbs in 2014 with the goal ofpreventing others from suffering.
Clarkson’s Shipley Center for Innovation helped provide the alumni with the resources needed to start up the event in 2014. Matt Draper, Clarkson’s director of corporate engagement, said the center worked with the hikers to assist them with their business model, develop a logo, and provide funding for marketing materials, website and other equipment.
To learn more about the event, register a climb or make a donation, visit http://46climbs.com .