Coffee house raises money for mental health in memory of local boy

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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- A local coffee shop is partnering with a community organization to raise awareness about youth suicide prevention.

Owners and staff of The Living Room Coffee House and Roastery in Eau Claire say this comes after meeting a customer whose 12-year-old son recently committed suicide.

"He was the only one in here and so just through natural conversation, I realized he had stuff going on and he was very open and willing to share that," said Madison Loveland, Owner.

And what he shared was what some would call a parent's worst nightmare.

"He ended up telling me that in January his 12-year-old son committed suicide and was just very honest about that and it really touched my heart," said Loveland.

After hearing the heartbreaking story, the coffee shop decided to step in and do something. "From open to close at all of our locations we have been running a fundraiser where a dollar toward every drink sold goes directly towards Sharing Hope in the Chippewa Valley," said Molly Alley.

The fundraiser has seen huge support from the community, online and in shop. "We've even had people come in simply to donate, haven’t even purchased a drink," said Alley.

Officials with Sharing Hope in the Chippewa Valley say they appreciate the support in honor of Gage Wright.

The Sharing Hope organization provides grants and programs raising awareness about mental health and suicide. Their largest fundraiser is an annual walk, which raised $18,000 last year. This year’s event will be held September 14th at 8:30am in Eau Claire’s Carson Park.

"We are quite honored to be named a recipient of funds raised today. Those funds that are raised today will be put into the pool of money that we provide for grants and for education for local community," said Jeni Wetzel

Wetzel says through Gage's story and others like his, it’s important to shine a light on the topic to help with suicide prevention. "I think there's a big stigma. It’s uncomfortable to talk about it. It’s not something really pleasant to talk about however very real," said Wetzel.

She says the number of youth struggling with mental health issues and suicidal thoughts is rapidly increasing.

Molly and Madison are hopeful this fundraiser will help turn those numbers around.

"I just want to say happy birthday to Gage Wright and say thank you to his family for letting us do this and to let anyone else who is going through something similar know you have someone on your side.," said Alley.