I am humbled and honored to be a part of Samaritans’ 2020 Boston Marathon team. My family and I lost a piece of our hearts just a few short years ago when my cousin, Teddy Fusco, died by suicide. Teddy’s loss left an enormous hole in this world and in the hearts of many. I’m running in Teddy’s memory to help Samaritans realize a society in which fewer people die of suicide … a society where suicide is not a stigma; a society where those affected by depression can find comfort and help; and a society where, as a community, we can help lessen others’ stress, despair, depression and suicidal ideation. Every single day, Samaritans works to make all of these things a reality; and I feel grateful to help support their life-saving mission.
Teddy was more than my cousin—he was the one person I could always confide in, my constant. He was a beloved son, brother, uncle, cousin and friend. Teddy was loved by everyone whose life he touched. For those of us lucky enough to know him, he kept our days warm, light-hearted and full of pranks. Teddy loved photography, was an amazing caretaker and was an avid cook—gifts he shared with everyone in his life. As a Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) State House Ranger for more than two decades, Teddy continually went out of his way to keep people safe—whether at work or in his personal life. If you’d ever visited the State House, you probably knew Teddy and his smile, larger-than-life personality and willingness to help in any capacity. These are, sometimes, the people you would least expect to take their own life; and the people who most need our help.
On average, there are 129 suicides a day in the United States, with the highest rate among white middle-aged men (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Data & Statistics Fatal Injury Report for 2017). On May 5, 2017, my cousin tragically became part of this statistic. For, underneath the smiles and pranks, Teddy suffered a pain that none of us could see—a despair that grew following the death of our beloved grandmother and culminating with the death of his dear friend and long-time colleague, Debbie. Teddy’s death was shocking to all who knew him. As a family, we continue to struggle with this profound loss. Through my own journey of grief, I have found myself in a place where I can use this experience to help others. To raise money and awareness for something bigger than myself.
Our society has built a wall around suicide and depression. This idea that we should be embarrassed, that we should suppress our feelings for fear of being judged. We need to break down these barriers and create more conversations of compassion, understanding and security. More conversations of love and support. Samaritans is breaking this barrier down every single day—supporting those in crisis and families who have lost loved ones to suicide, and raising awareness of the realities of suicide and how we as a society can help.
Back in 2017, I set out to run my first half marathon. As one of my biggest supporters, Teddy pledged to meet me at the end with his camera. But, this was a promise he wasn’t able to keep, and the finish line felt sadly empty that day. Now, I run for Teddy, my family, for suicide prevention and for mental health awareness. I know in my heart that Teddy will be by my side for every step of these 26.2 miles.
Please consider making a donation to Samaritans to help me reach my 2020 fundraising goal. Together, we can help support Samaritans, further their work and build the resources we so desperately need to save a life. Teddy will be in my heart throughout this entire process ... and I know when I need him most, he will carry me to the finish line. #TeamTeddy
With much love,