2019 recap

It is a new year. I am so grateful to everyone who has supported us in so many ways during this past year. Your cards, texts, phone calls, messages, and prayers mean so much to us and always lift us up. Thank you for loving on our family so generously. Your financial support of The Carrie Cotter Memorial Fund, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, and the National Alliance on Mental Illness also mean a lot to us as we do what we can to reduce the suicide rate and improve mental healthcare. As people set goals and resolutions for the new year, I’d like to give you an update on what we (the Carrying On community) accomplished in 2019. Carrying On raised more than $60,000 for better mental healthcare and suicide prevention in 2019 and I’m so amazed and grateful for You. (Details are below because it got so long and not everyone appreciates numbers like I do🤷🏼‍♀️, but if you like numbers check it out.) Thank you for your generosity to causes close to my heart. 2020 – Let’s continue to make the world a better place so people don’t take their own lives.
#CarryingOn❤️🎈💚🐻 #800273talk #text741741 #suicideisnotanoption #stayconnectedtoothers #YOUmatter #iloveYou #theworldneedsYOUhere #takecareofYourself #Hope #moveforward #YOUareagiftfromGod #cheeringforClemsonisaNewYearstradition #FaithHopeLove #dojustlyNow #lovemercyNow #walkhumblyNow

As we mourned the loss of James, we asked that donations be made in his memory to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. 23 donations were made that we know of; they did not include all of the amounts donated, but we do know it was well in excess of $26,000. In June, our mighty team of 4 walked 16 miles, overnight, all over the city of Boston and raised $5500 for the AFSP. For World Suicide Prevention Day in September, many of you joined us in releasing a balloon, lighting a candle, sharing our story, and/or donating to The Carrie Cotter Memorial Fund. The total donated to Carrie’s fund in 2019 was $18,300. Expenses imposed on the fund are covered by a generous friend of ours and are not included in that number. $18,200 was donated to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline in 2019 and the remaining $100 in donations will be donated to the NSPL in 2020. The current balance in the fund is approximately $410. Many community AFSP Out of the Darkness walks are held in the fall and I’m so grateful to all who walked alongside us in our journey, either with us in Waco, Dallas, or Austin, or in your own hometowns in Colorado, Washington, DC, Missouri, or South Carolina. In these AFSP Out of the Darkness walks our teams raised $10,053. 6 of us also walked in the NAMI walk here in Austin and raised $800 for better mental healthcare for all. You all are amazing. Thank YOU.

Music Therapy v.2

So back in mid-March, I was compiling a list of praise songs that were speaking to me, as most of you know I rely on praise music for strength and healing. Well, those are all great songs, but they really don’t fit me right now. (However, if you are receptive to some empowering songs check these out: “Survivor” by Zach Williams, “We Win” by MercyMe, “Stand in your Love” by Josh Baldwin/Bethel Music, “joy.” by for King and Country. Awesome songs and I will appreciate them again in the future)

I admit some of those frustrate me right now and I am in need of God’s strength and comfort. Here are some more fitting songs for me at this point in my grief journey. “Haven’t Seen it Yet” by Danny Gokey.  “Don’t forget the things that He has done before, And remember He can do it all once more…Don’t ever lose Hope, hold on and Believe, Maybe you just haven’t seen it… yet…Good things are coming even when we can’t see…” Don’t Lose Hope. Romans 8:28 “We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to His purpose.” And Romans 8:38-39 “For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” God Loves James and Carrie and God Loves You.

“No Matter What” by Ryan Stevenson is about regrets, which always hit survivors of suicide loss, but I think the bigger message in this song is one of comfort : “You can’t erase His love, Nothing can change it. You’re not separated, No matter where you run, He’s always holding on, You’re still a daughter, you’re still a son, No matter what.” Comfort. Love. For those of you who are parents, you know how you would do anything for your children? God loves you More than that and will do more for you, His child.

“Maybe it’s Ok” by We are Messengers. This a great song for mental health awareness as well as to remind you of God’s love and strength. “Maybe it’s ok if I’m not ok, ‘Cause the One who holds the world is holding onto me…” Remember, God is still in control and He is there for you. I’ll also recommend “It’s Ok that you’re not Ok” by Megan Devine as a book for those grieving or anyone who wants to be there for someone who is grieving.

“Before the Morning” by Josh Wilson. Wow. There are so many good lines in this one, so I will include a link to a lyric video for you. “Would you dare, would you dare to believe, That you still have a reason to sing, Cause the pain that you’ve been feeling, It can’t compare to the joy that’s coming, So hold on you gotta wait for the light, Press on and just fight the good fight, Cause the pain that you’ve been feeling, It’s just the dark before the morning…” Psalm 30:5 “For his anger is but for a moment; his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may linger for the night, but joy comes with the morning.” (special meaning for Teal residents) and Romans 8:18 “I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed to us.” What a promise to remember in dark times. H.O.P.E. = Hold On, Pain Ends


“Only Jesus” by Casting Crowns is on my list too, though it doesn’t specifically relate to my grief journey.

Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the ones that obviously speak loudly to me; ones we used in James’ Memorial Service. I’m sure you know these, but if you don’t, search them up and take a listen. “Jesus Loves Me,” (special private meaning why we included it, but, yes, the children’s song) “The 23rd Psalm,” (the Baylor Women’s choir sang Z Randall Stroope’s arrangement for us), “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing,” the classic hymn or Christ Tomlin’s version, “10,000 Reasons,” by Matt Redmond (love that one), “Reckless Love,” by Cory Asbury (talk about a song about God’s Love for you! Let that song wash over you) “O Love that Will Not Let me Go,” by Chris Rice (chosen by one of James’ childhood friends and sung by him and some members of the Baylor Men’s choir) and “Be Thou My Vision.” the classic hymn.

I’m probably forgetting some other excellent songs that spoke to me, but I hope these might help someone. “Oh come, let us sing to the Lord; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!” Psalm 95:1. #CarryingOn❤️🎈💚🐻 #800273TALK #musictherapy #processing #myHopeisinHim #DontLoseHope #KeepTheFaith #LoveOneAnother

March graphic

This graphic was made by a friend of ours in 2007 for Carrie’s dance recital program.

march graphic

This graphic was made by a friend of ours in 2007 for Carrie’s dance recital program. I just reread the lyrics from the song that she danced to in this costume and thought I’d share some of them:

Lora by Genie

Eyes so blue
Do you know how much I love you?
Deep inside
A beautiful bird wants to fly
But how can it fly with broken wings
How can it soar above the trees
And how can it glide upon the breeze
With broken wings?

I know a place
Where all pain has gone away
Come with us someday we’ll fly
With heaven’s (perfect) wings!
We will fly with heaven’s (perfect) wings
And we will soar above the trees
And we will glide upon the breeze
With (heaven’s) perfect wings
Eyes so blue
Do you know how much God loves you?”

Now Carrie’a pain has gone away and she has her perfect wings.

#ForeverMyChild ❤️ 🎈#CarryingOnForCarrie   #800273TALK #text741741

2019 Calendar

Please join us for the following events this year:

April 18, 2019

Carrie’s Birthday – Ephesians 4:32 Day (Carrie’s favorite Bible verse – Be Kind to One Another). Perform a random act of kindness for someone today and then enjoy a cupcake to celebrate the fun that Carrie brought in to this world. I plan to go pay for someone else’s birthday cake today.

May 10, 2019

Carrie’s graduation from The University of Arkansas. Final plans TBD, but the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences at The University of Arkansas will award Carrie an Honorary Posthumous Degree during their commencement ceremony at 3pm on this day (thus fulfilling one of Carrie’s goals of graduating college before James).

June 22, 2019 

The Overnight walk in Boston. We will be walking all night long to raise awareness for suicide prevention and to inspire HOPE in those struggling. You can register to walk with us or support our team here:  https://www.theovernight.org/team/CarryingonforCarrie

September 10, 2019

World Suicide Prevention Day – To help spread awareness about suicide prevention, please share Carrie’s story, say a prayer, release a red balloon, light a candle, and make a donation to the Carrie Cotter Memorial Fund (www.CarrieCotter.com). 100% of donations go to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline to help those who are struggling find Hope and choose to Live. We believe raising awareness will reduce the stigma surrounding mental illness and then more people will seek help.

September 21, 2019

Waco Out of the Darkness walk — Meet at Brazos Park East at 5pm. Walk starts at 7pm and ends with a beautiful candlelighting ceremony after dark. Sign up to walk with us or support our team here:  Carrying On

September 28, 2019

NAMIwalks Austin – Because it all starts with mental health.  Join us at The Long Center in Austin for a 5K walk to the Capitol and back. Meet at The Long Center at 8am; walk starts at 9am. Sign up to walk with us or support our team here:  https://www.namiwalks.org/team/CarryingonforCarrie

October 26, 2019

Dallas Out of the Darkness walk – Meet us at Addison Circle Park at 7:30am; the walk starts at 8:30am. Because what else would I do on the second anniversary of the worst day of my life? I can’t do much, but I CAN walk. Sign up to walk with us or support our team here:  https://afsp.donordrive.com/team/Carryingon4Carrie

November 2, 2019

Austin Out of the Darkness walk – Please meet us at the Texas State Capitol at 9am and walk with us to raise awareness for suicide prevention and to inspire Hope in those struggling. The walk starts at 10am. You can join our team, Carrying on for Carrie, by clicking on this link:  https://afsp.donordrive.com/team/CarryingonforCarrie


2018 recap and Looking forward into 2019

Year end financial information and More!
2018 donations to the Carrie Cotter Memorial Fund (excluding the donations to cover expenses) totaled $3437. The fund donated $3500 to The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline in 2018. The current balance in the fund is $452.61.
We are so grateful for the generosity of our family and friends. We deeply appreciate your donations and the opportunity to help others find Hope and choose to Live. For those they may not know the story, in Carrie’s letter to us she used the phrase, “sleepy baby needs to sleep forever.” When we googled that right after her death (with quotes), we got 1 result – the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. We believe this was her way of asking us to help others, even if she, herself, had lost Hope.
The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is the nation’s leading organization regarding suicide prevention. This organization runs all of the Out of the Darkness walks across the country. We are also grateful for your support of our family as we participated in the walks at Baylor University, Waco, and Austin. Larry and I also participated in their Overnight walk in Dallas in June where we walked about 17 miles, starting at 8pm. The inaugural walk at Baylor (organized by James) had 149 walkers and raised a total of $6278 (of which our team and a few other special friends raised $4150). Our team at the Austin and Waco walks raised $2165 and we appreciate everyone who supported our efforts by donating or walking in these walks with us. We also really appreciate our family and friends who participated in community walks in their own city in Carrie’s memory in 2018. Thank you for walking for her and raising awareness to inspire others.
As we begin 2019, we plan to participate in these events again, as well as recognize World Suicide Prevention Day on September 10th and remember Carrie on her birthday on April 18th. Stay tuned to see how you can join us. We would also be honored to support you if you choose to walk for Carrie or organize a fundraiser to support an organization for suicide prevention or mental health awareness (AFSP, NAMI, Stop Soldier Suicide, Active Minds, etc). Let me know if you choose to do something. I believe raising awareness for suicide prevention and mental health will reduce the stigma surrounding mental illness and more people will seek help and realize God’s promise, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you Hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11. #ForeverMyChild ❤️ 🎈#CarryingOnForCarrie #stopsuicide#800273TALK #dontloseHope #carriecotterdotcom

Events in 2018

Join us!

April 18, 2018 – what would have been Carrie’s golden birthday (18 on the 18th). We ate tacos with lots of cheese and her favorite cupcakes and then released 18 red balloons on this day.

April 21, 2018 – Out of the Darkness Campus Walk at Baylor University, Waco, TX – Our very own James coordinated with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (the national organization) and the Active Minds chapter at Baylor, as well as other staff members at Baylor to host an “Out of the Darkness” walk on campus. This event will raise awareness about suicide and help others with mental health concerns know they are not alone and that there is HOPE!

June 2-3, 2018 – Larry and I will be doing The Overnight Out of the Darkness Walk in Dallas. Each year the AFSP has 2 Overnight walks in rotating cities that last from about 7pm – 5am (17 miles). It is a very moving event and we are fortunate to be a part of it this year. We finished at 3:02 a.m.

September 10, 2018 – Worldwide (anywhere you are!) – September 10th is World Suicide Prevention Day each year. This is the day that Larry and I have chosen to be our own call to action day where we will solicit donations to the Carrie Cotter Memorial Fund (find link on this page). We plan to do this each year in conjunction with a Red Balloon release. Like our Family Day at the Lake 2017, we will be encouraging friends across the country to participate in releasing red balloons for Carrie on this day. We believe helping others find Hope is what Carrie would want us to do. All donations to the Carrie Cotter Memorial Fund go to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

September 29, 2018Austin, TX – This is the day of the NAMI (National Alliance for Mental Illness) walk in Austin. Because it all starts with helping those with Mental Illness. In 2015 I took a class by NAMI which was very informative and helpful. At the time I was too overwhelmed to think about advocacy…still am, but I want to support them too.  Here is a link to join my Carrying on for Carrie team: team: https://www.namiwalks.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=donorDrive.team&teamID=20322

September 29, 2018 – Waco, TX –  Yes! Same day!  I am also going to the Waco Out of the Darkness walk in the evening on this day. Because I can’t do much, but I CAN walk!  Again, I believe raising awareness about mental health issues will reduce the stigma surrounding mental health and more people will get the help they need. Here is a link to join my Carrying on for Carrie team:  https://afsp.donordrive.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=donordrive.team&teamID=182619

October 26, 2018 – Austin / Waco, TX – Low key plans to be determined to mark the first “angelversary”.

November 10, 2018 – Austin, TX – This is the Austin Out of the Darkness Walk day. It will be held at the Capitol beginning at 10am. I have created a team in the hopes that others will join us. It is called “Carrying on for Carrie.” This should be about a 3 mile walk during the day! It is free to register and join us. Here is a link to sign up:  https://afsp.donordrive.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=donorDrive.team&teamID=166225

We want to help all those suffering from mental illness realize what God has promised: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you Hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11. This Bible verse was still hanging in Carrie’s dorm room on 10/26/17.