Aaron Hartman Foundation to present 2nd annual poker run

Published 7:59 pm Thursday, June 15, 2017

Cindy Hartman knows Saturday can accomplish two goals –  raise awareness and prove to be the perfect way to remember her son.
Aaron Hartman, a Unaka High School graduate, is remembered as a kind soul and thrill seeking on a motorcycle by friends and family but tragically lost his life to suicide at 23 years old.
To remember his impact on his friends and family, individuals with the Aaron Hartman Foundation are presenting the second annual poker run event Saturday, beginning at 11 a.m. at the Northeast State Community College campus in Elizabethton.
Cindy, a crisis worker with Frontier Health, spoke with the Elizabethton Star Thursday and tearfully shared the story of her son.
“I didn’t know my son was in trouble. He was quiet, soft-spoken. I didn’t worry much about him. It was my other two that were dramatic,” Cindy said jokingly, wiping away tears. “He was going to college on and off; he would take breaks to help his father. He was always out with his friends, riding motorcycles, camping. No one knew anything was wrong.”
But depression set in after a rocky breakup. And after issues arose, Hartman took his life.
“We miss him every day,” Cindy said. “One call could have drastically changed our lives.”
For the past two years, the Aaron Hartman Foundation has presented a poker run to remember the life of the thrill-seeking motorcyclist.
“We wanted to do something he loved because he loved riding (US) 421. It’s odd to think about now because every time he’d travel with his friends, I’d be a never wreck,” Cindy said with a smile. “That’s what he and his friends loved to do, so we thought it would be a perfect way to remember him and raise awareness for suicide prevention.”
Participants for the ride will make six stops during the run once they leave the NESCC campus:
• Bluff City Pier
• Jack’s Corner
• Shady Valley Country Store
• Rico’s Pizza
• Blevins Cemetery
• Jiggy Ray’s Downtown Pizzeria
Cindy thanked all that are involved with the race, including Advanced Auto and Rocky Top Vapor. Aaron’s mother added the vapor store was able to make a significant contribution to the foundation.
“All proceeds raised from the event will go to the Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network,” she said.
Eliminating the stigma of depression is key, the mother said, and she hopes that the poker run will raise awareness.
“I think a lot of people, even when they lose someone to suicide, they don’t tell what happen. And that’s understandable,” she said. “But if we don’t talk about it, how can we change anything. No one expected my son would do this. I’m a crisis worker, if my son can do this, it can happen to any family. I want people to know they can talk about depression.”
Cindy also discussed the efforts her family has taken to raise awareness.
The mother added that Hayden, her son, has created bracelets for suicide awareness. The bracelets are on sale for $5.
Cindy added that the hope in the future is to have the Aaron Hartman Foundation fall under a 501(c) 3 category and establish a scholarship fund. For more information about the poker run or how to contribute to the foundation, contact Cindy at zlrh16@goldmail.etsu.edu or join the Aaron Hartman Poker Group online on Facebook.
The mother added that she is hoping to share the story of her son to different church groups or schools to help raise awareness for suicide prevention.
She also encouraged people to contact (423) 928-9062 to get in touch with local crisis workers.

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