A few Saturdays ago, I wrote about my attempt to take my own life during my teenage years and the kindness found at that time in an Easter basket.
It always hurts to go back and relive a period of darkness, but I do it because always, without fail, reopening my wounds allows other people to share their own hurts and regrets and worries. And together we continue to heal.
Through writing that particular column, I was introduced to a woman named Tenielle Klubben.
Tenielle is a runner. I would even say she is a serious runner. She is competing in the Boston Marathon on Monday, a feat she qualified for after finishing fifth in the women’s division at last year’s Fargo Marathon.
For five years, Tenielle has had an ache in her heart caused by suicide. A close family friend, Cassidy Joy Andel, took her life in 2010 at the age of 16. Tenielle was in college at North Dakota State University when she got the call.
The crack in Tenielle’s heart has never quite managed to heal but, as we all know, life goes on. Tenielle continued to put one foot in front of the other, carrying along the idea that one day she would do something in Cassidy’s honor that would perhaps save another life.
That “one day” came a few months ago while Tenielle was sitting in her office at VISIONBank. Her boss, VISIONBank President Dan Carey, stopped to ask how the running was going. Then Carey asked a question that put Tenielle’s training on a whole new course. He said, “If you could run for a cause, what would it be?”
Tenielle didn’t miss a beat: suicide prevention and awareness. Just like that, the idea was off and running.
Tenielle teamed up with Impact Foundation to create Running with Purpose. She launched a website and Facebook page, and is raising funds for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) and other local charities. As a fun twist on the dollar amount, Tenielle is asking for “themed” donations based on the number of miles in a marathon, like $2.62, $26.20 and $262.00, although people are welcome to give any amount.
Here’s the interesting thing about Tenielle and suicide prevention donations and Facebook pages. She’d rather not do any of it. It’s very much out of her comfort zone to be in the spotlight. In fact, she says she worries sometimes that when the attention is on her, it is somehow taking away from other people who were closer to Cassidy. It’s almost as if she feels guilty about speaking up. But then she starts running, putting one foot in front of the other, and she can feel Cassidy and God propelling her on.
I asked Tenielle if she ever gets emotional when she runs. The phone went silent. All I could hear were tiny little sniffles, and I knew I had hit a soft spot.
Suicide tells us we didn’t try hard enough, we didn’t care deeply enough, we were too focused on ourselves. But those are all lies.
So Tenielle chooses to focus on the truth, that good can still come out of bad, that lives can be saved, and that the Boston Marathon is just the beginning. Tenielle Klubben will continue Running with Purpose.
For more information
• If you or a loved one struggles with depression or thoughts of suicide, call the FirstLink Suicide Hotline at (800) 273-8255.
Please continue to share your stories of kindness with me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or send a letter to Kindness is Contagious c/o Nicole J. Phillips, The Forum, 101 5th St. N., Box 2020, Fargo, ND 58107.
Nicole J. Phillips is a former television anchor for Fox News in Fargo. She is a writer, speaker and mother of three kids. Nicole is married to Ohio University’s men’s head basketball coach Saul Phillips. Her columns run every Saturday.