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April 24, 2019

4/2/2019 9:49:00 AM
Teams play for a reason at second annual dodgeball tournament
Did you know that 20 to 22 military personnel die by suicide per day? Also, did you know that in 2016 it was found that Wisconsin farmers have one of the highest on the job suicide rates?
Suicide prevention and awareness have been major focuses for Sue Springer Judd, the founder of the Suicide Prevention Coalition of Iowa County, WI. For the past few years, Judd and many volunteers have gone to schools, businesses, and communities throughout Iowa County to provide information on suicide warning signs, as well as offer tools for those affected by suicide.
On Sunday March 24, a dozen teams from throughout Iowa County gathered to play in the second annual dodgeball tournament, held at Mineral Point High School. It was a five-on-five double elimination co-ed dodgeball tournament, requiring two people of each gender to start their rounds. Team members that participated, had to be ages 15 or older.
"We had double the amount of teams this year from last year," Judd said.
Although teams gathered to show their skills, fight for the chance to be champions, and have fun, they were all together for one spread serious awareness about suicide prevention and what can be done to get the word out. Whether an individual was directly affected or not, everyone that participated knew that suicide prevention has impacted many, especially in southwestern Wisconsin.
"People may be curious as to what dodgeball has to do with suicide prevention. Honestly it's a fun way for starting awareness, and raise money. There's a lot of exercise, room for laughter, and hitting people with soft foam dodgeballs. What a great stress reliever! It's also teams coming and working together for a common goal to spread awareness," Judd said.
Money that was raised on Sunday, will go towards purchasing more suicide prevention t-shirts for high school sporting events. Funds will also help put Question Persuade and Refer (QPR) trainings for teachers, medical teams, and community members. It will also help air public service announcements on local television, and radio stations.
For Ashley Kieler, the tournament meant so much more. Kieler is originally from Lancaster, WI, and is the daughter of Scott and Tina Jones. In 2007 Kieler's father Scott created Allegiant Oil, a local company that provides premium diesel fuel, gasoline, propane, kerosene, and other types of fuels for commercial, agricultural and residential customers in Southern Wisconsin.
Two years ago, on March 1, 2017  Kieler lost her father unexpectedly. For the last couple years, she has wanted to help share awareness. She did so by participating in this weekend's tournament.
"We kind of wanted to do this for him," Kieler said. "We also did it in memory of Allegiant Oil, the company he created."
Kieler participated in the tournament with the "Allegiant Oil" team. Team members included Nathan Kieler, Abby Fotzler, Ella Nelson and Jayson Jones.
It has been often said that individuals who have either thought of, attempted, or completed suicide, are looking to take away their pain, and not take their own life. While the reason may be different for everyone, suicide prevention and awareness are important topics to discuss. Research has shown that suicide most typically occurs when life's stressors such as hard economic changes, job loss, divorces, relationship loses, can sometimes go above and beyond one's ability to cope.
Paula Pittz, a 2014 of Mineral Point High School, has participated in the tournament with her family for the last couple years.
"It was so awesome to be part of this event to spread awareness and have a small part in helping those affected in Southwest Wisconsin," Pittz said. "Personally, it was extremely rewarding to participate especially having friends and family that were affected by suicide."
There is a stigma with suicide and mental health disorders, that when speaking up about one's mental and emotional struggles, that there is a fear of receiving judgement, or being perceived as weak-thus resulting in not speaking up at all.
"It's just trying to get the stigma to go away, of not talking about mental health and everyone's struggling with something," Kieler said.  "It helps to talk and when it's announced people know that they're not alone."
Pittz enjoyed seeing the many teams that came together, doing their part in spreading the awareness.
"Overall an amazing event that I would highly recommend!" Pittz said.
The Suicide Prevention Coalition of Iowa County, WI extended its services, in January 2018, to other southwestern Wisconsin counties including: Grant, Lafayette, Richland, Sauk, Crawford  and Vernon Counties.
More information on the Suicide Prevention Coalition of Iowa County can be found by contacting the organization at, or by visiting the website at

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