Emily Hardee has turned a family tragedy into a personal crusade to prevent suicide and the Starved Rock Country Community Foundation is helping her make a difference.
Described as “a caring cousin and fierce advocate for change,” Hardee recently handed an $8,000 check to the Youth Service Bureau of Illinois Valley to support its mental health services – and she had already established an SRCCF scholarship for students studying to become mental health counselors.
“Emily is an amazing leader helping our community be strong and healthy,” said YSB Executive Director Sam Tenuto.
The gift will assist youth unable to afford therapeutic services. YSB Treatment Director Jennifer Bauer said, “Emily’s gift will allow us to make services affordable to those who are most in need.”
Hardee’s fourth annual Run Today for Tomorrow Walk/Run to Fight Suicide on June 24 in Ottawa raised more than $18,600 to cover the YSB donation and build the scholarship in memory of her cousin, Molly Yacko, who was lost to suicide in 2018.
This year’s race attracted 178 participants; in four years, the 5K has raised more than $83,000.
“We are thankful for every sponsor, donor, participant and volunteer,” Hardee said. “And special thanks to Pamela Beckett, SRCCF co-founder and everyone at the Foundation for helping us serve the community.
“We invested over $16,000 with SRCCF this year to ensure race proceeds stay here,” she said.
Beginning in 2024, the Molly Lenora Yacko Memorial Scholarship will award local university students who are nearing completion of a degree in mental health counseling.
Hardee’s goal is to aid, and bring hope to, individuals affected by suicide. She urged those suffering from depression and mental illness to call the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline.
“Tomorrow needs you here to see it,” Hardee said. “Please know you are not alone.”
To create a fund with the Starved Rock Country Community Foundation, contact President and CEO Fran Brolley at 815-252-2906 or email@example.com.