The Cherokee County Suicide Prevention Coalition kicked off Labor Day Monday with 210 people running in their first annual Labor4Hope 5K race at Etowah River Park in Canton.

The coalition is an initiative of Cherokee Focus, with a mission to prevent deaths by suicide in Cherokee County, to bring awareness and educate the community, to decrease the stigma associated with mental illness, and to bring hope for a brighter future.

Funds raised from the race will support local suicide prevention efforts.

In the past five years, 15 teenagers in Cherokee have died by suicide, three times as many in the previous five-year period, according to the coalition.

Tafton Barber, a senior at Sequoyah High School, sponsored a booth targeting teens and suicide prevention as a part of her Gold Award for the Girl Scouts. She created materials to educate teens on the warning signs of suicide and how to start a conversation with their friends about mental health.

The race’s overall male winners were: Andrew Balogh, 16, 1st place; Matthew Hall, 14, 2nd place; and Matthew Lawley, 36, 3rd place. The overall female winners were: Makenna Calbert, 18, 1st place; Natalie Calbert, 18, 2nd place; and Alena Ezell, 14, 3rd place.

Sponsors included Bio-One, Child Fatality Review Panel, JD Kitchens, Canton Counseling, Sidelines Grille, Progressive Counseling Services, Fain Billiards Service, Francisco Molina Realtor, Shannon Wallace for District Attorney, Georgia Highlands Medical Services, 911 Training Institute, Love Like Reed and Allegro Business Solutions.

For more information about the Cherokee County Suicide Prevention Coalition, email

Support Local Journalism

Now, more than ever, residents need trustworthy reporting—but good journalism isn’t free. Please support us by purchasing a digital subscription. Your subscription will allow you unlimited access to important local news stories. Our mission is to keep our community informed and we appreciate your support.

Shannon Ballew is the managing editor at the Cherokee Tribune and the Cherokee Ledger-News. She is a graduate of Young Harris College and lives in unincorporated Woodstock.

Recommended for you

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.