Jefferson Award Winners: Will Butak, Joe Forster & Aiden Detienne

Chippewa Falls (WQOW) – Teens struggling with suicidal thoughts can often feel like they are alone. That’s why three students in Chippewa Falls wanted to make sure everyone who is struggling knows, there are people out there who care.What started as a club project for Will Butak, Joe Forster and Aiden Detienne turned into so much more. That is why they were chosen as this month’s Jefferson Award winners. No goal can be accomplished without taking the first step. For Butak, Forster and Detienne, their goal was to help those considering suicide."We have extremely high rates," Butak said. "The second highest rates in the state per-county. So, we knew that our entire area needed the help."So, as part of a club project, they organized the Run for Hope to prevent suicide. "We knew that it would be hard, but we had no idea how hard it would be," Butak said."We ended up putting in 200 hours worth of just visiting companies, followed by more individual work between the three of us, just planning things," Forster said.Their work paid off this April. Despite some frigid temperatures, more than 100 people attended the event."We were probably expecting to donate about $2,500 somewhere," Butak said. "We didn’t know if we would get it, but that was our far-fetched goal."Far-fetched became more than reality. The event brought in $4,000."It was an event that not only had tears, but it had smiles. It had people reaching out to each other. It was amazing," said Karlene Phillips, president of Prevent Suicide Chippewa Valley.Phillips’ organization had a booth at the event, never knowing they would be presented the check. "The one moment that I remember is when we gave her the money, she broke down in tears," Forster said. "That was, by far, the most rewarding part of it."Money given to the organization is going right back in the schools, or more appropriately, into more than 1,800 lockers."(We will) Purchase mirrors for the lockers of the Chippewa Falls High School students that give a message of hope that they matter, but also provide the text line number for Hopeline of Wisconsin," Phillips said."We hope that helps at least one person," Butak said. "With that, it is a win at the end of the day."One step, followed by many more, all to help let their classmates know there is hope."The power of our youth today, and what they can accomplish was certainly exemplified by these three men," Phillips said.The students are now seniors, and have already begun plans for next year’s event.They want to make sure the Run for Hope lives on, even when they have moved on, so they will be training other students this year to take over for next year. You can find more information about Prevent Suicide Chippewa Valley here.If you know a volunteer making a difference in your community, click here.

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