Colors for Arie returns to Hennepin on June 1

Suicide prevention/awareness 5K the first since 2017

Colors will fly when participants in the Colors for Arie 5K run/walk for suicide awareness takes place on Saturday, June 1 in Hennepin.

Talking about suicide may not be easy, but Carolann Echebarria really wants people to talk about it, to help alleviate pain she knows only too well and to perhaps prevent others from experiencing that same feeling.

Toward that end, Echebarria and friends are putting together again Colors for Arie, a 5K color walk/run to raise funds and awareness of suicide prevention, be held Saturday, June 1, in the streets of Hennepin. The event starts at 120 N. Fourth St. at 10 a.m., with registration beginning at 8 a.m. The donation for entry is $40, with the proceeds of the event will go to the Arukah Institute of Healing in Princeton.

It is a labor of love for Echebarria, whose daughter Arie Chana Boggio was 15 when she took her life on March 3, 2010.

The first color runs in her honor were in 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2017 before Echebarria had to take a break from it. It was the suicide of one of her co-workers a year ago that reignited in Echebarria to start the awareness train again.

“I wanted my daughter to be remembered for the person she was,” Echebarria said, “so we decided on a 5K run and once we found out what a color run was, with the colored powders and things, I said that’s perfect. That’s Arie, full of vibrance and color.

“Everybody’s covered with color, whether you’re the first one of the last one. It’s so much fun … Though some people were against (colors) because it was new around here, we got a lot of good feedback on the idea and the first run/walk we had, we had 500 people. I never had so many people say how much fun they had and still remembered the people we lost by tragedy in a positive, joyful way.

“It’s a lot of work, but there’s a lot of heart-felt emotion that goes into it.”

Echebarria still struggles to talk about that fateful day when her daughter reached a tipping point. That summer, Arie decided she wanted to stay with her dad in Hennepin for a little bit.

“She texted me the night of March 2 to tell me she loves me,” Echebarria said, “and I texted back I love you, too and have a good night … Later, we put things together, that she had messaged her brothers and her friends, saying she loved them. She told a friend she wouldn’t need a ride to school the next day. The friend asked why and she said, ‘You’ll see.’ She was in distress and those were the only signals.

“When I got home from work (March 3) at 5:30 in the morning, the phone rang and it was her dad. I couldn’t understand him at first, but he said, ‘Arie’s gone.’ I asked where she went and he said, ‘No, she’s dead.’

“There had been an argument and there were prescription drugs around the house and she ended up taking those. I was in shock. Everyone was.”

The sudden loss hit Echebarria and Arie’s brothers and friends hard, but made it through thanks to counseling and the love and support of others. Eventually, she realized her daughter’s passing was part of a rash of teen suicides in the Bureau and Putnam counties area, so she decided something had to be done.

“I know every parent feels their child is unique,” Echebarria said, “but there was such an outpouring of grieving all over the county because she was the one who was always there for people, cheering everybody, the last person you’d ever think would go, especially to suicide.”

A talk with a friend yielded the idea for a 5K run to raise suicide awareness in the Illinois Valley area, help raise funds for counseling, do something to help teens and their families before it reaches a critical point.

A short time later, in 2013, it was decided that it should be a color run, where the participants are dowsed with brightly colored powders as that run the course, proceeds to go to LivingWorks suicide prevention program.

The event was held again the next two years, left and returned for one year in 2017 before Echebarria had to walk away from it. It was after the coworker’s passing that she and friends decided they needed to bring the event back.

“Arukah came to our work and counseled us, that’s how I came to know it and the good work that it does,” Echebarria said. “After that, people kept coming up and asking, ‘Can we have another color run?’

“When you lose a person to suicide, there’s such a taboo on it. Nobody wants to talk about it to bring it out in the open. I want people to be able to say, ‘Hey, I feel bad’ and talk to someone about it and know there are people to listen. It’s important to tell the story, so people don’t feel alone … and we’re excited to help them do that.”

Have a Question about this article?