Niagara Gazette — TOWN OF NIAGARA -- It’s not a topic that Pat Travers, his daughter, Carly, or anyone in their family shies away from talking about.
Since Billy Travers committed suicide 20 years ago, the family has made the cause of suicide prevention its mission.
“When it happened to Billy, you don’t know why and you look for answers,” Pat Travers said. “He was just a happy-go-lucky guy.”
The loss haunted the family until 2007, when Kenny Travers, the youngest of the 15 Travers siblings, found the website of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. He also learned about the organization’s Out of the Darkness Walks.
Shortly after that, “Billy’s Bunch” was formed and the Travers became regulars when the walks were hosted on the east coast.
Each walker pledges a minimum of $1,000 to do the 16- to 18-mile walk. Walkers begin their trek at sunset and end it at sunrise.
“It’s designed to bring us out of the darkness,” Carly Travers said. “That’s what the walk is about. It’s about bringing (the subject of suicide and suicide prevention) out of the closet and showing that there’s help and you just have to reach out for that help.”
When Kenny Travers walked in 2007, it was in New York City, home to his family and the place where Billy took his life. The most recent walk, a week ago in Philadelphia, saw Kenny and Carly, joined by her uncle, Max Travers, and her cousin, Kristen Travers-Lizzi.
It was Carly’s third walk.
“My uncle Kenny and I are very close, and I wanted to do (the walk) with him,” Carly Travers said. “It starts with a ceremony and people come up and talk about their loss.”
At a recent walk, Pat Travers recalled a mother whose 12-year-old son, a victim of bullying, had taken his life. He said the woman walked the course in her son’s sneakers.