Photo courtesy of Glow For Hope on Facebook.

O’FALLON - Glow For Hope, a new organization that promotes mental health awareness, will host their signature “Spike Out Suicide” glow volleyball tournament.

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Starting at 3 p.m. on Saturday, May 18, 2024, 12 teams will compete at The Hut Sports Bar in O’Fallon. Attendees can enjoy live music and glow volleyball with all proceeds benefiting Glow For Hope and their mission to prevent suicide.

“It’s hard to find somebody that you meet that their life hasn’t been impacted by suicide in some way,” said Kelly Poelker, founder of Glow For Hope. “We’re just bringing the community together and providing information and resources and opportunities to tell stories.”

Poelker founded Glow For Hope in honor of her children, who both struggle with depression. She explained that the organization’s goals are to increase conversations around mental health and suicide prevention while providing resources to parents and individuals.

While Spike Out Suicide is their signature event, Glow For Hope has sponsored a number of events and initiatives since Poelker founded the nonprofit last year. All of their events have a glow-in-the-dark element, and they often include honor necklaces modeled after the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s honor beads. People wear glowstick necklaces to signal whether they have lost someone to suicide or overcame their own personal battles.

“You can see what color beads they’re wearing and where they’re at with how things are in their own personal life around suicide. It breaks down a barrier,” Poelker explained. “One of our main initiatives is the conversation.”

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Glow For Hope also does a lot to promote the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline. They’re working on crafting a guide for parents to learn about suicide and how to talk with their children about mental health. The organization hopes to put out more literature in the next year as they grow.

For most of the board members, the mission behind Glow For Hope is personal. Poelker’s daughter Kelsey serves on the board and has been “instrumental” in the organization's start-up. She suggested the logo that includes the molecular structure of serotonin. According to Poelker, this is the “hope hormone,” and it signifies the hope they want to share through Glow For Hope.

“You kind of, as a parent, feel helpless sometimes in how to communicate with your kids and how to not trigger something worse in them or cause a stress on family relationships, in not knowing how to help them when they don’t want to get help or they don’t recognize that they need help. So I really want to push that forward,” Poelker said. “At the same time, one of my losses was my nephew. And I had conversations with him before he died and he promised he wouldn’t take any action…I just want to change all that. And the only way to make a difference is to do something about it.”

While it can be an emotional conversation, Poelker said Spike Out Suicide should be a fun day for participants and spectators alike. Pool play begins at 3 p.m. on Saturday, May 18, and Scott Keller of Steel Creek Band will play from 3–6 p.m. followed by Luke Hays. Players can expect prizes, giveaways and more fun throughout the day. For more information about Spike Out Suicide, visit the official Facebook event page.

Poelker hopes Glow For Hope can inspire conversations and promote mental health awareness through the community. To learn more about Glow For Hope, check out their official website at GlowForHopeNFP.org.

“It’ll be a great time,” Poelker added. “We keep doing these different glow events to bring awareness to suicide prevention and mental health out into the community, which is so needed. And a big driver for us is to bring that community together and spark the conversation around mental health and, ultimately, suicide prevention.”

If you or someone you know is struggling or in crisis, help is available. Call or text 988 or chat at 988lifeline.org.

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