That’s the message that Dorothy Connor wants Herkimer High School students to hear on Monday.
HHS seniors will travel to Little Falls to hear Connor talk about how they can help prevent accidents like the death of her son, Connor Gage, who died from hypothermia while attending college in Vermont. Her program is called “Never Walk Alone,” and a memorial fund of the same name has been established in Connor Gage’s memory.
‘You never think it could happen’
Junior Joseph Carney was one of several students from Herkimer and Little Falls who spoke with Dorothy Connor about her presentation during a recent focus group. He said that hearing the facts of what happened to Connor will have an impact on the students who attend Monday’s “Never Walk Alone” assembly in Little Falls.
“You never think it could happen to someone you know, but it did,” Joseph said. “Students will come out with a different perspective on things after hearing his story.”
A student-informed effort
Monday’s “Never Walk Alone” assembly at Little Falls is the first of what may be a larger-scale initiative to support student safety and mutual accountability. And that message has been shaped, in part, by input from Herkimer students.
“It’s personal, because it happened to someone from our own community,” Joseph Carney said of the effort.
‘Check on your friends’
Prevention coordinator Crystal Gerhardt said “Never Walk Alone” will help students understand the facts — not only about what happened to the college freshman who once attended school in Herkimer, but also about how they can help someone who’s in trouble.
The message, Gerhardt explained, is meant to empower students and help them understand their role in keeping others safe when alcohol and drugs are involved.
“Check on your friends. Be that person who stays behind and makes sure everyone gets home safe,” Gerhardt said.