By Morgan Pilz, Staff Writer
(July 19, 2018) The Pocomoke River in Snow Hill will be overrun with canoes, kayaks and paddleboards in support of suicide prevention during the 10th annual Jesse’s Paddle fundraiser, this Saturday.
The event, which is organized by the Friends of the Jesse Klump Memorial Fund, will take place at the Pocomoke River Canoe Company on River Street. Up to five dozen boats will be launched into the river starting at 5 p.m., with registration beginning at 4 p.m.
The fund was established in 2009 by Worcester resident Kim Klump after her son, Jesse, a college-bound Snow Hill High School senior, took his own life.
In the immediate aftermath of her son’s suicide, Klump created the Jesse Klump Memorial Scholarship and in 2011 began the Jesse Klump Suicide Awareness and Prevention Program.
“Jesse worked at the canoe company and he enjoyed paddling and it just seemed to make sense that we would have a fundraiser around that,” Klump said. “My expectations are that it’ll be the biggest and best one yet. It’s our 10th anniversary and we tried to play that up and introduce a couple new things.”
In addition to free food, drinks and a silent auction, there will be live music at 4:30 p.m. as well as ice cream from Chesapeake Bay Farms and a digital photobooth in recognition of the 10th fundraiser.
Snow Hill’s “King of Rock and Roll” Nick Haglich will headline the entertainment with classic rock songs. Haglich was a friend of Klump’s and has been performing during the event for the past three years.
Fund Manager Ron Pilling said last year’s Jesse’s Paddle raised approximately $25,000 and had over 200 participants.
“It’s been between 150-200 people every year since the first year,” he said. “The paddle is a great event and a great fundraiser. People know why they’re there. They know what the mission is.”
Prizes for top fundraisers include hotel stays in Ocean City and a luxury pontoon boat cruise for 10 guests on the Pocomoke. There will also be prizes for those holding the best hands in the Poker Paddle, with first, second and third place earning Amazon gift cards for $75, $50 and $25, respectively.
The Jesse Klump Memorial Fund provided a $15,000 scholarship to a Snow Hill High School graduate this year.
“Funds from the paddle are key to our ability to support a significant scholarship,” Pilling stated in a press release. “Since 2009 we have granted over $100,000 in scholarships, and last year we added a program to offer grants to educators and mental health professionals to augment our work in suicide prevention.”
The Jesse Klump Suicide Awareness & Prevention Program travels across the lower Eastern Shore teaching the recognition of suicide’s risk factors and warning signs, with the goal of reducing the historically-high suicide rates in local communities.
“We partner with a bunch of other organization and a coalition called The Lower Eastern Shore Suicide Prevention Coalition made up of hospitals and boards of education, and counseling services,” Pilling said. “Everybody who has some aspect of suicide prevention or mental health work.”
The program also includes Safe Talk, a three-hour suicide prevention workshop, as well as attendance at numerous health fairs throughout Worcester County.
“We sponsor a program called SOS (Signs of Suicide) that we’ve taught in middle schools in Worcester County for the last three years,” Pilling said. “We also do outreach work to veterans, who suffer extraordinary high rates of suicide.”
In addition, Klump hosts a grievers and suicide loss group the third Wednesday of every month from 6-7:30 p.m. at the Berlin Health Center, 9730 Healthway Drive.
“I’ve let people know what to look for, what warning signs they might see and what they can do to prevent a death from suicide,” Klump said.
For more information or to register, and to reserve a canoe, kayak or paddleboard, call 410-632-3971. For more information about the program, call Pilling at 443-982-2716.
Boats are provided at no charge for those who raise over $40. All participants are required to bring a pledge. Pledge forms can be downloaded at www.jessespaddle.org.