By Kierra Pixler
Funny and adventurous were just some of the words used to describe Christopher Wenger. Four years after he died by suicide at age 14, his family and friends carry on in his name with suicide awareness and simple acts of kindness in honor of his soft-hearted nature. Christopher’s name will soon stand in-between Cedar Ridge and Kuykendall Mountain Roads in Moffat. Janet Sutton, Christopher’s mom, has adopted the two-mile stretch off of Moffat Road and has organized a litter pick-up for next month.
Sutton was inspired to join the Adopt-a-Road Program by April Metcalf. Metcalf lost her brother, Michael Renick, in a car accident on Sparta road in the fall 2016. The Adopt-a-Road Program in Bell County was spearheaded by Russell Schneider and Metcalf after learning that Bell County did not have one.
“In November of 2016, my brother died in a car accident on Sparta Road in Belton,” said Metcalf. “Shortly after, we were going somewhere, and I saw the TxDot Adopt-a-Road sign and thought well let’s try and adopt Sparta Road in his memory as well as the other lady that also died in the accident. I contacted TxDOT, and they told me that it was not a state-owned road, that we had to contact the county and see if they had a program. I contacted the county and Russell Schneider, and I partnered up and were able to create a program for Bell County.”
Sutton made a two-year commitment with the county to clean up Moffat Road four times a year, with February 17 being their first clean up date.
“I’m going to be giving out door prizes as well to the volunteers about suicide prevention,” said Sutton. “Even though it’s more about clean up and doing good, this is the reason that we’re doing it.”
Sutton also started the non-profit group Hope Happens. Their mission is to educate communities with the resources available to help bring awareness and prevention of suicide and to support those that have been affected by suicide.
“Since Christopher’s passing, we’ve started a non-profit called Hope Happens, and we try and turn around a horrible situation into something good,” said Sutton. “We give free community workshops, do training, support survivors of suicide loss, and do support groups. Everything that we are doing is trying to bring good out of a bad situation, so when this opportunity came up for Adopt-a-Road, we wanted to show that we’re not only helping people deal with loss and suicide prevention, but also bringing good things to our community. Moffat Road is a road that we travel every day because we live off of it, so we wanted something that would commemorate him where he lived.”
The only requirement for volunteering is that you are at least 15 years of age. If you are interested in being a part of the litter pick-up, please call 254-718-9502 or email Janet at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“I’m always quoted saying that Christopher was meant to do amazing things and we’re just making sure that he still does.”
For more information on suicide prevention and awareness, please visit https://afsp.org/.