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Festival of Hope free event returning to rally community around suicide prevention

Rays of hope and community at the third Festival of Hope for suicide awareness and prevention May 1, 2021 (Oil City Staff)

“If you or someone you know is struggling with thoughts of suicide please call the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255)” 

CASPER, Wyo. — The Festival of Hope, a free event hosted by the nonprofit suicide support group J.R.’s Hunt for Life, is returning to The Lyric downtown Saturday, May 7.

The group’s founder, Jenny Hunter, told Oil City the purpose is to offer the community a “ray of hope” with free, spirited activities and and access to a range of local mental and physical health providers.

“People will know they are not alone,” Hunter said. “Suicide is very insidious; as long as it’s hidden, that’s where it gets it’s power.” 

“This event is to say, ‘Hey, we’re all here.’ There is no stigma, there are no judgements; we’re here to offer a smile or listen,” Hunter said.

Wonder Woman, Batgirl, Captain Marvel, and Spider-Woman at the Lyric on May 1, 2021 during the third Festival of Hope for suicide awareness and prevention. (Oil City Staff)

The event will be held from 1 to 3:30 p.m. on May 7 at 230 W. Yellowstone Highway.

One block of West Yellowstone in front of the venue will be blocked off to accommodate the activities. There will be a prayer tent and animals, including therapy dogs and mini-horses. Musician Chad Lore will again be the sidewalk minstrel. Dream Upon A Princess superheroes will be in attendance, and people are encouraged to adopt a heroic attitude against silence and despair by dressing up as their favorite characters.

There will be a release of biodegradable balloons to commemorate loved ones lost to suicide, Hunter said.

Batman interviews Chad Lore for K2 Radio at the third Festival of Hope for suicide awareness and prevention May 1, 2021 (Oil City Staff)

Catering will be provided by the Mills Subway, and refreshments are being donated by Pepsi Co. and Albertsons.

“It is all free, because hope is free,” Hunter said.

One of the theaters will be also be playing clips from the Safe Talk podcast Hunter co-hosts with former K2 news anchor Billy Floyd, as well as a video produced by Hunter’s granddaughter Sydney.

Hunter also encouraged any business or organization supporting hope to attend, as long there is something they can give away free at their table.

Participating groups include:

  • Celebrate Recovery
  • Central Wyoming Counseling Center
  • Wyoming Behavioral Institute
  • Natrona County Suicide Prevention Task Force 
  • Casper-Natrona County Health Department
  • Casper College Veterans Club
  • Iris Clubhouse
  • Joshua’s Storehouse
  • The Link for Youth
  • Reach 4 a Star Riding Academy
  • Project Kenny
  • Dream Upon a Princess
  • FOP #6

The following are resources listed on the Natrona County Suicide Prevention Task Force website:

In an emergency, call 911.

Natrona County Resources: