Event fundraising

Evansville event by a charity aimed at helping children whose parents have committed suicide

EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WFIE) – Mae’s Way Foundation was started by a local woman who wants to help children facing the same trauma she suffered as a child.

Michele Gates started the Mae’s Way Foundation in February 2021. The organization focuses on helping children whose parents have committed suicide. It’s something that touches close to Gates, as she lost her own mother to suicide when she was five years old.

“When you’re left behind, you just have a void that never goes away,” said Michele Gates, founder of Mae’s Way. “I mean, I’m 50, and it’s not going away. You learn to live with it, you learn to move on, and that’s what I want to do with these resources is to help these kids move on.

On Saturday afternoon, the foundation hosted the Rise Rally and Ride Poker Run Family Fun Festival, its first-ever event. It all started with a motorcycle ride through Burdette Park, where riders picked up playing cards along the way and the best poker hand at the end won a prize. They then organized food trucks and activities for children.

Organizers say the foundation is new enough that their main focus right now is to gather enough resources to find kids who could use their help and connect them with counselors, mental health resources and possibly camps and even scholarships.

Foundation officials say they are working against a cultural stigma that discourages people from talking about suicide.

“It’s difficult, but I think the more we talk about it the more awareness we get, and to let people know that it’s okay to talk about it because a lot of these topics are things that people don’t want to talk about. about,” said volunteer Shara Perry.

After Michele’s mother died, she went to live with her grandparents. Six years ago her grandparents died, and she says that brought all her grief to the surface.

As part of her healing journey, Michele has written a children’s book, “Mae the Courageous Caterpillar”, which tells her story of overcoming grief. She has also teamed up with a local councilor to create an exercise book and journal for the children.

She says these resources would have been very helpful to her when she was a child.

“It would have made a huge difference to have been connected with someone who knew what I was going through, and that’s what I want to do with Mae’s Way,” Gates said.

For those who missed Saturday’s event, Mae’s Way Foundation officials say they will try to make the event an annual event in the future.

Click here for more information on the Mae’s Way Foundation.

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