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Santas shuffle through the streets for suicide prevention

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Updated: January 10, 2013 6:04AM

Short, slender, and brunette, Jen Slepicka isn’t exactly your spitting image of Santa.

But, that didn’t stop her, or about 30 others, from donning the jolly, red outfits early Saturday morning for Yorkville’s Santa Shuffle, to benefit Suicide Prevention Services.

The group wasn’t hard to miss as it gathered in the Jewel-Osco parking lot to dress. With reindeer ears and bright, red caps, they readied themselves for the holiday season, and their trek down Route 47 to River City Roasters where they gathered for coffee and cocoa.

“I’m really excited,” Slepicka, who coordinated to event for SPS, said cheerfully. “This is an approachable way of bringing people one wants to talk about suicide.”

Still, it was the one thing most walkers had in common.

Sandwich grandmother Sandy Hake showed up with her daughter, Lisa, and Grandson Keygan, 5, to help support the cause.

Sandy said she lost her husband to suicide 21 years ago, and regularly does things to support the local organization that helps so many in need. With a long white beard draped across her chin, Sandy Hake looked “pretty silly,” Keygan said with a smile.

“She said she wasn’t going to (dress up), that she didn’t want to act’s too late for that, mom,” Lisa Hake joked.

Yorkville Mayor Gary Golinski and State Representative Kay Hatcher also came out for the cause.

“(Suicide) is an issue that has effected our community just recently,” Golinski said. “(SPS) shows people that there are places to turn to in dire situations...what better way to start your Saturday morning than a brisk walk with a bunch of Santas.”

Sheridan’s Caitlyn Wise heard about the event, and couldn’t pass it by. As she fitted her oversized costume on Saturday morning, she talked about the importance of community support and suicide prevention services.

“I suffered from suicide problems earlier in my life,” she said of her past struggles. “But, it’s good to know I’m not the only one out there.”

Through organizations like SPS and treatment centers like Linden Oaks, in Naperville, Wise said she learned to turn to others for support. For Slepicka, that’s what Saturday’s event was all about.

“Christmas and the holidays evoke a lot of emotion. It’s tricky,” she said. “We’ve had some serious ‘pows’ lately, with the economy down, and the holidays, and all the elements that make people go bonkers.

It’s good to let people know that there are people like us who care.”

SPS of America is a not-for-profit agency which has operated for 14 years in the Fox Valley. The organization offers workshops, trainings, and seminars to increase awareness and improve intervention skills. For more information, visit or call 630-482-9696 or 800-273-8255.

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