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Walking the Overnight - Out of the Darkness in NYC

Updated on November 24, 2013

Out of the Darkness walk for depression and suicide prevention

Walking through the night for a good cause.

I had been anxiously awaiting doing this walk in New York City for several months since I registered to do it and I also wanted to raise the $1,000.00 in charity required. I was unsure if I would be able to complete the 18 mile walk but my intentions were to do the best I could and just put one foot in front of the other hoping I would have the strength and the inspiration to complete it. I was doing the walk for my mom and my dad and I was fortunate to have a friend accompany me on the walk and a co-worker who also participated for the cause which gave me the incentive to forge ahead.

I lost my mom to depression as she succumbed to it at the tender age of 50. She was a very loving and caring mother and someone I could talk to whenever I needed to. She was always there for me. My dad was a very devoted husband and father and the best grandfather you could ever have. He was a dedicated iron-worker and he worked with pride, love of what he did and a fine work ethic of putting his best effort into everything he did. He saw a great deal of tragedy in his business which did take its toll on him over the years but he was very courageous and he kept it to himself.

Sadly when we lost mom our dad was never the same. He had the courage to go on but he missed his wife and though he lived nearly 20 years more he longed for her. He did spend a lot of time over the years with his family and his grand children but did have bouts with depression. The day I found out of his death I just cried and cried as I could not envision it would come to this. I felt to blame and wished there was something I could have done to ease my father's pain.

I tried to replay this in my mind wondering if there could have been something we missed and I just felt so sad at the unfortunate circumstances of losing my dad to suicide. The way he died too was a shock as he was hit by a speeding train and I just try to have faith in God and look to him for strength and guidance. I love both my parents and although we lost them under sad circumstance we did have a lifetime of wonderful and very happy moments together. Our parents were wonderful people and I will never forget them as they were always there for me and they loved me and always made me feel safe and protected.

After anticipating this walk for a while it was finally here and I wanted to ensure I would complete it in my parents honor so I took safety precautions making sure I would be properly hydrated and that I walked in comfortable shoes and had a jacket. Having a friend to walk with me also was extremely helpful. Jeff, my best friend can always be counted on and I am very fortunate to have such a friend. I also had another friend, Satya who texted me and encouraged me through the walk as she also participated in the walk and I thought that was very special and kind of her. She is a more experienced walker having done many walks over the years for charity and she finished several hours ahead of us. She continued to text me long after she completed the walk which was very encouraging and my best friend walked with me the whole time.

I was also encouraged and inspired by all the men and women who walked for someone they loved and lost. It was very emotional and something I was very proud of participating in. I was helped along the way by these brave men and women and by the volunteers who cheered us and gave us support and encouragement along the way. The volunteers were tremendous and their encouragement and kindness really made a difference in me continuing. I carried a picture of both my mom and dad which I clenched closely to my heart holding back the tears and I walked with their memory the whole distance of the walk.

The overnight walk in NYC part 1

The overnight walk in NYC part 2

The overnight walk in NYC part 3

The overnight walk in NYC part 4


Emily's first hairstyle with full highlights to lift her spirits coping with severe depression, her transgender issues, her son's recent hospitalization for autism rage, suicide attempt; concerns of imminent  foreclosure & her own suicidal thoughts.
Emily's first hairstyle with full highlights to lift her spirits coping with severe depression, her transgender issues, her son's recent hospitalization for autism rage, suicide attempt; concerns of imminent foreclosure & her own suicidal thoughts.

Tribute video to Dawn by walking team from PA college walk

The overnight walk in NYC part 5

The overnight walk in NYC part 7

Emily speaking on Life and Struggle

The struggle of Life over time can wear us down

Hi, I am Emily and I have been blogging for quite some time now and I wish to share three special writings that I remember reading as a kid which my mom would read to me at night when I was very young and as I think of my son struggling and my personal struggles I feel I will share this with my son and all of you too. The first two entries were taught to me by my mom. The third entry was taught to me by my dad.

These writings I share with you, I remember being taught as a child: The writings are truly special to me and the authors really touch my heart.

As I reflect on Life I consider these 3 writings which were written by special people and taught to me by my parents who also were very special to me.

Live your life and just try to do the best you can.

The first writing I learned as a kid:


Dorothy Law Nolte

If a child lives with criticism,
he learns to condemn.

If a child lives with hostility,
he learns to fight.

If a child lives with fear,
he learns to be apprehensive.

If a child lives with pity,
he learns to feel sorry for himself.

If a child lives with ridicule,
he learns to be shy.

If a child lives with jealousy,
he learns what envy is.

If a child lives with shame,
he learns to feel guilty.

If a child lives with encouragement,
he learns to be confident.

If a child lives with tolerance,
he learns to be patient.

If a child lives with praise,
he learns to be appreciative.

If a child lives with acceptance,
he learns to love.

If a child lives with approval,
he learns to like himself.

If a child lives with recognition,
he learns that it is good to have a goal.

If a child lives with sharing,
he learns about generosity.

If a child lives with honesty and fairness,
he learns what truth and justice are.

If a child lives with security,
he learns to have faith in himself and in those about him.

If a child lives with friendliness,
he learns that the world is a nice place in which to live.

If you live with serenity,
your child will live with peace of mind.

With what is your child living?

The second writing I learned as a kid:

Footprints in the Sand

One night I dreamed a dream.
As I was walking along the beach with my Lord.
Across the dark sky flashed scenes from my life.
For each scene, I noticed two sets of footprints in the sand,
One belonging to me and one to my Lord.

After the last scene of my life flashed before me,
I looked back at the footprints in the sand.
I noticed that at many times along the path of my life,
especially at the very lowest and saddest times,
there was only one set of footprints.

This really troubled me, so I asked the Lord about it.
"Lord, you said once I decided to follow you,
You'd walk with me all the way.
But I noticed that during the saddest and most troublesome times of my life,
there was only one set of footprints.
I don't understand why, when I needed You the most, You would leave me."

He whispered, "My precious child, I love you and will never leave you
Never, ever, during your trials and testings.
When you saw only one set of footprints,
It was then that I carried you."

- by Margaret Fishback Powers

The third writing I learned as a kid:

The Serenity prayer (common version)

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,

The courage to change the things I can,

And wisdom to know the difference.

The Serenity prayer (original version)

Reinhold Niebuhr

God, give me grace to accept with serenitythe things that cannot be changed,Courage to change the thingswhich should be changed,and the Wisdom to distinguishthe one from the other.Living one day at a time,Enjoying one moment at a time,Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,Taking, as Jesus did,This sinful world as it is,Not as I would have it,Trusting that You will make all things right,If I surrender to Your will,So that I may be reasonably happy in this life,And supremely happy with You forever in the next.Amen.

When I am feeling down I just love to read these writings that stand the test of time and have a meaning that is the same for each and every one of us.


Emily Iannielli

My Experiences in Walking Out of the Darkness

The walk started in Cadman Plaza in Brooklyn, NY which was set in a park with a "rock concert" feel to it as over 2,500 participants joined together for this wonderful cause. I was very impressed as I looked forward to the walk and testing my physical stamina for a worth while reason. We were entertained by talented musicians who set the tone with uplifting music and there were legions of photographers capturing the magic in print. The pinnacle of the opening ceremonies was the speech given by Mariel Hemingway who has lost 7 members in her family to suicide including her grandfather, the world renowned writer, Ernest Hemingway and her sister who was very close to her.

She spoke from her heart as she delivered her speech and as I studied the crowd there was not a dry eye as she gave a very passionate and emotional speech that touched all of us and made us realize why we were here. She also was participating in the walk and she inspired all of us to do it for those we loved and lost. When she finished her speech the crowd erupted into applause and we were on our way in walking the overnight to cheers and encouraging words by all the volunteers lined up along the route who made this event truly special.

I was doing a walk of this magnitude for the very first time and I did not know what to expect. I brought my video camera and tried to capture the essence of the walk and the courage and dedication of the participants as best I could. I felt like I was documenting something very important and just knowing that I was a part of it made me realize that we can make a difference in some small way. The neighborhoods in Brooklyn we walked through were very accommodating to us as the residents cheered us as we embarked on our overnight walk and the volunteers on bicycles were there to support us and radio for medical help if necessary. We were drawn to the sunset as we walked on the Promenade and saw the beautiful skyline and the historical Brooklyn Bridge. The views were breath taking and the night was beautiful for such a walk that will reside in my memory for years to come.

Walking over the Brooklyn Bridge was a first for me and doing it in an emotional walk made it so much more special. My dad was a bridge builder and he worked on the construction of the Verrazano bridge so whenever I drive and now walk over a bridge I always think of my dad. I read the story of John Roeblings and how he was a real visionary and how he realized his dream in building the Brooklyn Bridge, a true historical landmark and one of the best designed bridges in history. I walked with pride and was encouraged by all participating in this walk and was happy I had my video camera to capture the majesty of this beautiful bridge and the special people who walked with such courage through the night for their loved ones who they miss dearly.

As we continued on we came upon the World Trade Center site where the Freedom Tower is well underway but it seems like the construction was slowed over the years. I am finding it hard to believe that we are approaching the 10 year anniversary of the tragedy of September 11th. As we walked by the site we felt the emptiness and my friend, Jeff said that no matter what they build on the site it will never replace the World Trade Center and I agreed saying my 12 year old son reminds me of this every day. I felt the emotion as I captured it on video and as we walked by the site.

As we walked in Manhattan we passed by Chelsea Piers and continued on passing the Intrepid which was lighted in red, white and blue which was very patriotic. Sadly I had no more time on my video camera so I was not able to document every aspect of our walk but I have the wonderful memories in my mind. As we passed the Intrepid I remember how my dad loved to visit there with my sister and the beautiful pictures they have together there.

At times I felt tired during the walk and my legs were sore but I had the desire and was inspired to continue on. As I read the shirts of some of the participants I felt for them and saw how much they were affected by the loss of their loved ones and how much this walk meant to them. We don't realize the many people affected by depression and suicide but based on my experiences walking the overnight there are so many affected but sadly it is very rarely discussed. For some reason depression and mental illness is considered a taboo subject and though it is a medical illness it is looked upon in a negative way. Suicide which normally results from depression for the most part is concealed and never really discussed. This is why this walk is so important as it allows all of us to express our pain and hurt so we can heal. We will never truly overcome the shock and sadness we feel in losing someone we love to suicide but if we can openly talk about it then we can find some solace and inner peace.

We were lucky to have resting points along the route and the volunteers were always in sight which made our walk so much easier and gave us peace of mind that we were protected and could ask for help at anytime if we needed to. We also had the Midnight snack stop which was a chance for us to hydrate, eat and rest before we forged on in our walk. One thing I learned is that the human spirit is special and if we believe we can do something and put our best foot forward we will usually complete what we set out to do. I was pushing myself and I had the love in my heart of my parents and the support of my friends and the experience of walking with all the other brave participants.

Emily breaks down with all the struggles she endures


Emily with first hairstyle
Emily with first hairstyle

To my friends

We know in our life that there are times we feel like giving up and saying enough already but when we have responsibilities and we have a child depending on us then as my friend Carol Felice Gies who really cares about me said "You have to pick yourself up no matter how bad you feel because you have a son depending on you and you can not leave him. He needs you and you need him."

She made me cry but she also made me realize that my life is special and many of my friends and my coach from high school really have touched me and made me realize how much they are concerned for me and for my family.

I dedicate this to Carol, Coach Al and all my wonderful friends from High school and last but not least, the most important one of all,

Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook who made it all possible.


Emily Iannielli

The overnight walk in NYC part 6

Out of the Darkness Walk 2010 Boston


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    • JessMcCray profile image


      6 years ago from NYC

      I'm so sorry for your losses. I tried to take my life a few times and I am fine now. My grandfather worked on the verazzano bridge- I grew up in staten island. Thank you for writing this

    • ediann profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago

      We all have happy moments in our life but reality hits and we also have to deal with sad moments as well as tragedies. We all have to go through sad days too and hopefully will gain some perspective and try our best to deal with it as best we can. I learned a lot from my parents and despite losing them under sad circumstances I try to focus on the positive. However I do need to express my feelings at times and this walk was very uplifting and helped me realize that I was not alone and I could share my story with others who are grieving their losses too. It was a wonderful experience and I met so many wonderful and courageous people. Thank you for your kind words and good wishes. God Bless you and your family too.

    • FGual profile image


      7 years ago from USA

      What a beautiful story. I have had pain in my life, but nothing like what you have endured. God bless you.


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