BY CARTER POPEJOY
On Tuesday morning, a small press conference was held at The Press that was aimed at highlighting upcoming events and partnerships regarding the Center for Life Experience here in Hays. The main point of the morning was how all of the outreach programs/events that will be taking place are all thanks to local philanthropist, John Thorns, who was a part of and helped start CFLE. However, Thorns passed away in July of 2014, so it was all about how these events, as his sister, Margaret Schmidt, said would “Honor my brother’s legacy in the town and community he loved.”
The organizations involved were The Center for Life Experience, The National Alliance on Mental Illness, Healing After Loss of Suicide (a sub-organization of CFLE), and the Kelly Center. The parties involved want to let the public know about the inaugural John C. Thorns Jr., Annual Memorial Lecture Series. The hope for an event like the one mentioned is to bring awareness and to have an open place to talk about suicide, depression, and ways of finding help for not just yourself but others who have or have been affected but such illnesses or losses.
Besides being an artist, philanthropist, and active member of the First Presbyterian Chuch in Hays and an FHSU professor, Thorns was one such person who experienced a great loss. In 1952 he married Catherine Gallagher but then only six years later in 1958, she took her own life. Then later, in 1983, his daughter, Jennifer, was killed in a car accident. Thorns wanted people to know that there were ways to get help, whether it be dealing with the loss of a loved one, or getting help yourself for mental illness, he just wanted to help.
Executive Director of CLFE, Ann G. Leiker, said it best.
“John once told me that there wasn’t a morning where he didn’t cry, but regardless of how he felt, he knew there were others that needed his help,” Leiker said.
The first Annual Lecture Series will be held November 14, from 7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. David Schramm, a native of Hays will be speaking about ways to overcome depression and how to live life to the fullest. Schramm, besides being a life-long friend of Thorns’, shares his experience of surviving a near-fatal suicide attempt and how he was able to move on from it and turn his life around.
Schramm holds a doctorate of education from the University of Pennsylvania, an MBA from New York University, and a BFA from Emporia State, and is currently a faculty member at Stanford.
All of the organizations involved in the press conference on Tuesday just aim to help others; a wonderful way to honor John Thorns. For more information on any of the organizations listed in the article, you can follow the links down below.