COPPERAS COVE — Hayleigh Walker takes life one day at a time. Some days are harder than others, but she does know that she wants to live each day.
That has not always been the case, but this military teenager who once tried to take her own life is taking action to keep teens from making the same mistakes she did.
“In the past, I struggled with suicidal thoughts and actions. The experience I went through left me wanting no teenager to ever feel worthless or even consider taking his or her own life, because I know now that inside everyone, including me, is someone strong and full of potential, to be valued and appreciated,” Walker said.
Walker is a military dependent and the reigning Young Miss Copperas Cove Five Hills. Her platform of service is Teen Suicide Awareness and Prevention. She captured the crown in the largest community pageant in the state of Texas last May after sharing her personal story before a live audience and panel of judges in an on-stage interview, vowing to spend her year-long reign speaking out against teen suicide. On Saturday, she is true to her word as she hosts a candlelight walk targeted at teens but open to all in the area.
“I want others to learn about (teen) suicide prevention, the effects suicide has on not only the victim’s family and friends, but the community they were a part of,” the 15-year-old said. “There are ways of preventing suicide. We are encouraging the message that if you, or anyone you know, has thoughts of self-harm or suicide, it’s OK to ask for help and that there are better options out there other than suicide.”
Walker has partnered with the Copperas Cove High School DECA chapter for the event, which will be held at the pavilion at South Park, just down from the swimming pool next to Martin Walker Elementary School. There is no cost to participate. Personal testimonials will be shared and counselors will be available. Two butterfly trees will also be at the walk with butterflies for participants to write the name of someone they are honoring or memorializing to hang on the tree.
All participants are asked to sign up at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/teen-suicide-awareness-prevention-candlelight-walk-tickets-36811036802.