CORTLAND, Ohio (WYTV) – 33 WYTV Meteorologist Ryan Halicki has a personal connection to this week’s Hometown Hero. Her name is Cindy Orslene. Her family, like Ryan’s, has lost a loved one by suicide.
Just three months ago, Ryan lost his nephew, Teegan Kamzelski. The two grew up together and were only a little more than five years apart. For several years of Ryan’s childhood and into his early teens, Ryan said Teegan was more like his shadow – a little brother.
Ryan made a promise when he spoke at Teegan’s memorial service that he would do what he could to raise awareness to prevent other families from suffering loss and hopefully stop someone from making an attempt at suicide.
Cindy Orslene is someone doing the same thing, in honor of her son.
For the last three years, Cindy has served as the chairperson of the Youngstown chapter of Out of the Darkness Walk for Suicide Prevention – a role she took on just one year after losing her son, Terry, by suicide.
“The walk is, I think, a healing process. We are doing This for him. It started with him. And, with everybody, we are doing it for everybody, now. He sees us,” Orslene said.
Cindy said she found out about the walk when searching for support and comfort following her son’s death. She said little exists for families impacted by suicide. Her goal is to raise awareness and show that it is okay to talk about it, helping others find support and comfort. Through those efforts, the walk has grown.
“The first year we went from 400 to 1,200 people. This past year they counted 1,800 people,” Cindy said.
Cindy’s daughter, Jenna Modelski, said her mother being able to help so many people, helps her, too.
“Helps her cope with everything that is going on and what happened in the past,” Jenna said.
Cindy organizes a basket raffle that happens in conjunction with the 3-mile walk. Participants also help raise funds, collecting donations through the walk website.
On walk day, motivational speakers will talk along with suicide survivors. There is also a release of white doves, in honor of those lost.
“This really heals. I really think it does,” Cindy said.
This year’s Walk for Suicide Prevention is scheduled Saturday, September 30 at 10 a.m. at the Wick Recreation Area at Mill Creek Park in Youngstown.
A special message from Ryan:
September is national suicide prevention awareness month, and I feel it is important to say that if you ever feel like you are struggling please talk to someone. There are people who really do care and really do want to help. If you aren’t sure where to go, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273 TALK or 1 (800) 273-8255.