Since losing her brother to suicide 10 years ago, Seward resident Sara (Holle) Endorf and her family have been raising money and awareness to help put a stop to mental illness, a contributing factor to suicide.
“He’d been fighting depression for awhile,” Endorf said of her brother, Craig Holle, who died at age 22.
The Holle family has participated in the Out of the Darkness Walk in Beatrice for years in memory of Craig, and this year, they’re bringing their efforts to Seward for a Smash Mental Illness event on July 4.
From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., the public can give a donation for the chance to beat on a car with a sledgehammer.
“My sister (Stacy McGrath) found the idea online,” Endorf said, and hosted a Smash Mental Illness event last year at the Big Blue BBQ in their hometown, Marysville, Kansas.
“As we were sitting around thinking, ‘where else could we do this?’ I thought we could go big or go home and do it on the Fourth of July in Seward. And here we are,” Endorf said.
They’ve held a fundraiser each year in connection with the Beatrice walk—a beer pong tournament and selling items like window decals in memory of Craig.
Endorf said Smash Mental Illness is particularly fitting, since Craig was a mechanic.
“Hitting something hard with a hammer also lets people release some aggression,” she said.
The event will be on the corner of Seventh Street and Jackson Avenue behind Fast Mart, between the car show and the carnival.
For $5, participants will have 30 seconds to give the car a good beating. For $10, they get 60 seconds. Donations also will be accepted, even if people don’t want to smash the car.
The Holle family is partnering with the Seward County Suicide Prevention Coalition, which will receive a portion of the money raised, with the rest going to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
The group will have information and resources to pass out to those who stop by.
Endorf said the event was relatively easy to organize, thanks to friends and locals who were willing to help.
“We know people to take out the glass and the fluids, so they won’t be in the car. We live on a farm, so we have the trailer, the skid loader and stuff to get it up and down,” she said. “We were having a hard time finding a forklift to get the car back on the trailer, but Anderson Construction is donating the use of their forklift.”
Endorf was thankful for the donation and to Jonathan Jank, who she said helped make that connection.
After the car is smashed, the group will pull it through the Grand Parade to raise awareness.
Participants must sign a waiver, and minors must have a parent or guardian with them to sign. Safety glasses will be available on site.