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Turning something negative into a positive

Gracie Rozeboom
Gracie Rozeboom, Star Herald advertising and design intern

On Saturday my family and our Verne Drive-In family of workers hosted the first annual “Carson’s Cause Car & Truck Meet” to raise awareness about brain health and suicide prevention.
It was a chance to remember Carson Ehde who died last fall from suicide at age 21. And it was a chance to raise money for the foundation we started in his memory.
I poured my whole heart into this event — because I loved Carson and because I know how much he loved his 1997 Chevy Silverado.
We had dated for two years, and I spent hours with him while he detailed every inch of his truck and talked about the next big thing he’d do to make it more special.
Today, his family keeps it parked in the shop under a blanket, but we take it out for special occasions to remember Carson and to promote Carson’s Cause.
Saturday’s car and truck meet at the drive-in was the perfect occasion to do that.
I wanted the event to be big, and I wanted it to be meaningful. So, the work started months in advance to promote it and to involve the right people.
Social media channels drew in the younger crowd, and printed flyers were posted around town and in every auto parts store in Sioux Falls to reach an older crowd with the classic cars.
Next, I reached out to the news outlets in Sioux Falls to see if they’d do a story before the meet. There was no promotional coverage, but to my surprise, Dakota News Now came to the meet.
Photojournalist Sam Tastad captured images of the event and he spent time interviewing us about Carson, his truck and brain health and our mission.
An hour later he left to work on the story, and we were left hoping our message came across right.
When the segment aired Sunday night, we exhaled. The story was amazing, and we were grateful to have Carson’s Cause shared with a larger audience.
As we look back on the night, we realize how grateful we are for all the volunteers and support we received.
Professional Ag Marketing donated hamburger patties for Uncle Mike to grill, Linda DeSplinter from Green Lantern volunteered her talents at the fryers, and we had donated prizes from Wayne’s Body Shop, Get Money Golf, Luverne Livestock Auction, Custom Offsets and Henry’s Window Tinting.
At the end of the night, we raised over $20,000 for Carson’s Cause, and donations are still coming in.
These funds join all the other generous donations that have poured in since we started the fund last fall. The money will help us continue reaching children at Luverne Elementary School and expand into other schools.
Losing Carson was heartbreaking, but we hope the tragedy can result in something good.
Thank you, everyone, who joined us at the drive-in Saturday night and supported Carson’s Cause.
With your help and with every dollar donated, we’re changing how we talk about brain health, and we hope to prevent others from losing hope and taking their lives.

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