South Dakota Suicide Awareness Partnership at USD to sponsor Nikki’s Fund 5K, National Suicide Prevention Week activities

VERMILLION, S.D. -- The third annual Nikki’s Fund 5K Run/Walk is scheduled for 9 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 5 at Prentis Park in Vermillion. Sponsored by the South Dakota Suicide Awareness Partnership at The University of South Dakota and Sanford Health, the event is one of several campus activities to increase suicide awareness and raise funds to assist USD students who are in a crisis with depression or suicidal ideation.

With suicide claiming the lives of 30,000 people each year, USD administrators are committed to preventing suicide through the Student Counseling Center and Nikki's Fund, an organization that supports suicide prevention programs and other mental health needs for USD students. Nikki's Fund was created in memory of Nicole Vallie Harris, the daughter of Janine Harris, manager of the Al Neuharth Media Center, who suicided June 15, 2005.

"Nikki's Fund is a premier safety net that assists USD students who have suicidal ideation or have had an attempted suicide. The fund assists students who have mental or physical health needs that are beyond their reach due to limited financial ability," stated Matt Stricherz, director of the USD Student Counseling Center. "Nikki's Fund is making a difference for our students by helping with medication and environmental changes that are needed for students to achieve balance and to be in a 'good' place."

Registration forms for the Nikki’s Fund 5K Run/Walk for Suicide Awareness are available at the USD Student Counseling Center, which is located in room 336 inside Julian Hall; on-line at; the Muenster University Center on the USD campus; or participants can complete a registration form the day of the event at Prentis Park beginning at 8 a.m. Prizes will be awarded to the first and second place finishers in the male and female categories of 15 and under, 16 to 25 years old, 26 to 54 years old, and 55 and over. T-shirts and refreshments are also provided. All proceeds from the event, including donations and a $10 registration fee per participant, will be donated to Nikki’s Fund.

Additional activities are planned for National Suicide Prevention Week on campus the week of Sept. 7. Information booths will also be available on the USD campus distributing pre-, inter- and postvention suicide materials. Individuals who have committed suicide will also be recognized with a vigil and a talking circle during the Red Road Gathering, Sept. 17-18, at the National Guard Armory Building, 603 Princeton St., in Vermillion.

For more information about Nikki's Fund or to make a donation, please call (605) 677-5424.