On Thursday, September 26, 2019, more than 350 people gathered at the Spring Lake Bath & Tennis Club for the first ever A Celebration of Life: New Jersey. Led by a committee of local young professionals and friends, this event brought with it much history and even more meaning. A Celebration of Life began in 2011 to honor the memory of Kyle Craig, a 21-year-old student at Vanderbilt University who took his life in May of 2010. Kyle was a dynamic friend to many; a bright, handsome, and gifted individual across music and athletics, but whose strength of character enabled his growing struggles to be hidden from view. Spring Lake hosting the first of these events in New Jersey had significant meaning, as Kyle was raised in the town and his family remains deeply embedded in the community.
The evening honored the memory of Laurie Tobia, a young adult from Spring Lake who was lost to suicide earlier this year. Minding Your Mind’s New Jersey and New York Director, Guy Iacono, welcomed attendees and discussed the mission of Minding Your Mind as well as the purpose of A Celebration of Life. He presented the inaugural Champion of Hope Award to Lisa Tobia. The award recognizes a member of the community who has embraced the concept of spreading hope and awareness and turned it into action. “Lisa has been a beacon of strength and hope since high school days when her community was struggling with a suicide cluster,” Guy said. “She has consistently been a source of support for those who need it, and has helped reduce stigma around mental health by starting conversations and supporting Minding Your Mind’s mission and activities. Devoted to honoring the memory of her sister, Lisa stepped forward to serve as the chairperson for the first ever A Celebration of Life: New Jersey. We all are grateful for her dedication to our community and leadership in ending stigma around mental health and suicide.”
Attendees enjoyed delicious food, exciting raffle prizes, and danced to the sounds of DJZA. Proceeds from ticket sales and raffle purchases benefit Minding Your Mind mental health education programs and suicide prevention training in New Jersey.