This would have been Lexi Daken’s senior year of high school.
She died by suicide in February 2021 after trying to seek care at Dr. Everett Chalmers Regional Hospital. Her parents previously told Global News she’d left the hospital just days before her death feeling like a burden.
Daken was 16.
Now, almost two years out from her tragic death, her friends are hoping to honour her and her memory by donating the funds from a five-kilometre run to the Capital Region Mental Health and Addictions Association.
Rachel Ross-Hamilton and Lujayn Abuamer organized the run with the help of long-time Fredericton marathon organizers Christine Little and Bruce Macfarlane.
“We wanted to do a fundraiser to honour Lexi’s memory and we just thought this would be a really good way to do it by bringing our community together to do something that’s good for people’s mental health,” Ross-Hamilton said.
Both Ross-Hamilton and Abuamer are seniors at Leo Hayes High School, where Daken also attended.
Abuamer said the goal of the run is “to not forget Lexi and what she went through and her story and for it to be a lesson.”
Roughly 200 runners participated in the run and it raised about $6,500 for the CRMHAA.
Ben Harrison, the executive director of the CRMHAA, said his organization is honoured to receive the funds from the event.
He said many of the funds raised for charities like his come through community events.
“It’s even more special to see it come from peers and friends of somebody that has died by suicide or succumbed to mental health concerns,” he said.
For Chris Daken, Lexi’s father, this time of year is particularly hard.
“It’s still kind of a struggle day-to-day and she’s missed every day,” he said.
The Daken family has been open about what happened to Lexi and has called on the government and the health-care system to improve access to mental health.
Following her death, the province’s child and youth advocate made 21 calls to action. Daken said if there are improvements to the system, that is part of Lexi’s legacy — the words embroidered on T-shirts and bracelets at Sunday’s run.
“When we spoke out, we didn’t want this to happen to anyone else and if that’s her legacy — you know, the changes in the province that they’ve made to mental health — hopefully, that will be remembered for a long time,” Daken said.