Lake Oswego walk raises awareness of suicide prevention
Michelle Best had no idea her world would flip upside down two years ago when the Battle Ground, Washington resident suddenly lost her 22-year-old daughter, Melanie Santiago, to suicide.
And now, Best and many other people who had their lives touched by Santiago walk annually to raise awareness of suicide prevention.
Best is hosting a "Save our Lemons" walk in Lake Oswego on Saturday, Oct. 2, and invites the public to join. While Best lives in Washington now, she formerly resided in Lake Oswego with her children for nearly 10 years.
"I call it Save our Lemons because Lemon (is) my daughter's nickname, and our walking team is called Team Lemon," Best said.
The walk will begin at Oswego Hills Vineyard, located at 450 Rosemont Road in West Linn, around 10 a.m., though Best wants people to arrive at 9:30 a.m.
"To know her (Melanie) is to love her, and even if you met her for five minutes, you'd remember her forever. She's so caring for other people, so that's why we walk," Best said. "We walk hoping that it will raise awareness by us walking around the community, and also the money goes to AFSP (American Foundation of Suicide Prevention), and they do a lot of work."
Since Best formed her walking team three years ago, they've almost raised $30,000 for the foundation, which delivers prevention programs, education and raises funds for suicide research and programs.
Santiago graduated from Lakeridge High School in 2014 and studied at Oregon State University.
"All she had left was one term to get her accounting and finance degree," Best said.
Best said she knows other local people who were affected by suicide, and with Lake Oswego being the place her daughter grew up, she wanted to host the walk in the city for the second year in a row.
"I think it's of interest to everybody because you just don't know," she said. "It's a very good cause to donate to because of that. We're just trying to save people."
Walkers will receive a yellow T-shirt, and if people donate at least $10, they will receive homemade lemon decor made by Best out of donated wine cork and yellow paint.
From Oswego Hills Vineyard, people will walk to Hazelia Field at Luscher Farm and back. For those who don't want to walk but wish to donate, Best encourages them to make a "drive-by donation" at Hazelia between 10:30-11:30 a.m. People can donate cash, make checks payable to the foundation, or send money directly to Michelle Best via Venmo, and she will ensure all proceeds go toward the foundation.
To register for the walk or contribute to the fundraiser, click here.
Santiago is survived by Best and her husband, Ray, and siblings Madison,Tristan and Mariah Jones.
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