On July 16th, a remarkable woman in Albert Lea shared what looked to be a bold message about empowerment, being yourself, and most importantly being happy. That post garnered plenty of supportive responses from friends and family alike for Ahne. Sadly that bold post to social media was Ahne's last as she tragically passed away July 19th. Some asked themselves was this last post a call for help?

If you know me, you know I’m not shy...so here it is for all of you that feel the need to chat about my life behind my back.
- Has my life changed in the past year or more... YES 
- Am I rockin the single mom life? YES 
- Is it always easy?... NO ☑
- Am I on any type of illegal drugs?... NOPE ☑
- Did I gain some weight back? YA 
- Am I still working and trying hard? EVERYDAY I DO 
- Did I chop my hair.... YEP 
- Are my children happy? YES 
- Do I struggle with depression and anxiety? YA‍♀️
- Am I angry? NO ☑
I am living life for my kids and I - and I am not ashamed of it! Peace brings happiness and I’m working each day on more peace in our life! We all struggle at times but I would much rather be the person to help build someone up than tear them down, with that being said if you have something to say to me or are curious, then just ask me! Don’t spread rumors and talk behind my back...I’m a Mom and a Daughter so let’s have some [courtesy] for others!
Go and spread love  Be YOU ♥ Be Happy  #mylifemystyle #nevergiveuponyourself  #worryaboutyou #cowgirlup

It's from this sudden act and tragedy that Ahne's post, her thoughts, are living on as the community of Albert Lea is rallying around one another, like elephants in the wild leaning up against those hurting to simply support one another, and having the conversation that for many is taboo. That conversation is about mental health, and not being ashamed to talk about it, and to say you aren't alright.

Part of that rallying point for those in the community nicknamed the land between the lakes will be a community benefit walk to raise funds to go "towards investing in life-saving research, education, advocacy, and support for those impacted by suicide."

Those wishing to donate in memory of Ahne are being asked to put those funds towards a September event that the community is calling the Out of the Darkness Albert Lea Walk. The walk is a community united "effort to fight suicide while showing up for yourself, recognizing and honoring those you love, raising awareness, educating communities, supporting one another, and sharing hope" according to the event website through the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention website. 

To speak of how much Ahne meant to the community and businesses downtown, they moved an event last week to later in the year out of respect to Ahne's family, as Ahne worked downtown at Stadheim Jewelers, where she was a fixture and mainstay. Friends of Ahne held a candlelight vigil last Friday night along Fountain Lake to remember her spirit and to come together and grieve as one.

The stigma that surrounds mental health has only seemingly been exasperated during the pandemic as those needing someone to talk to, to hug, touch, or feel weren't around, or available.

Be the light in someone's life today, as tomorrow isn't a given.

If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, visit the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline website. Resource information is provided for free as well as a chat message service. To speak directly to a professional, call 1-800-273-8255. You are not alone and help is available. Every life is important.

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