SCRANTON — When Charlie Charlesworth, Pennsylvania Council President of Trout Unlimited, approached Nardimar Koch about holding an event in memory of her son, Louis, who committed suicide at age 16 on July 26, 2015, she knew just what to do: organize a race in his honor.
The first annual Louis A. Koch Memorial 5K Run/Walk will be held at 8:30 a.m. Saturday, July 23 at the Olive Street trailhead of the Lackawanna River Heritage Trail. Proceeds from the event will be divided among a memorial scholarship for underprivileged youths to attend the Keystone/Trout Unlimited Teens Conservation Summer Camp at Keystone College, the Louis A. Koch Annual Memorial scholarship at Holy Cross High School and a donation toward suicide awareness in Pennsylvania.
“The reason we chose a 5K is because Louis’ brother, Julian, 15, took up running and got to be very good at it,” Nardimar said. “He loves the sport and wanted to make his brother proud.”
Nardimar has been touched that so many people have lent their support in honor of her son.
More than 275 people have signed up to participate in the race and 65 donations have brought in a total of $2,906, in addition to approximately 30 private sponsors.
“All the support we got from the community and businesses in the area was kind of overwhelming,” Nardimar said.
Nardimar is hopeful awareness raised through the event will help another family avoid dealing with the loss of a loved one from suicide.
“You don’t think about (suicide) until it touches you,” she said. “Every single day in the United States, there are 100 suicide attempts, that’s a big number, but you never think you’re going to be part of that statistic. Coffee was Louis’ big passion and his dream was the own a coffee house. He went to Drexel University in Philadelphia and took classes to become a barista.
“Depression, obviously, has many faces and you can hide it. Louis had a loving family, he excelled academically, he had friends and a girlfriend, and still he had a part of himself he felt he could not share with anybody.”
After Louis’ death, Nardimar asked her family members to reach out for help if they are feeling depressed or stressed out.
“There is a rule in my house that is doesn’t matter how crazy the thought we have, we have to tell somebody about it,” she said. “We don’t have to tell each other, but we have to tell somebody.”
Louis was one of just 25 teens elected to attend the Trout Unlimited Teen Summit National Leadership Conference in Wisconsin in 2014. He was also the first teen to serve as a member of the Lackawanna Valley Trout Unlimited Board of Directors and selected as the president of the teen chapter.
According to Nardimar, Louis often sacrificed his time to help others and participated in the Velocity Student Ministry at Parker Hill Church in Dickson City.
During a service trip to Birmingham, Alabama with Parker Hill, Louis helped build a home through Habitat for Humanity.
Louis, a South Abington Township resident, was an honor roll student at Holy Cross High School where he was a member of the Fictional Fanatics Club and won the Young Writers Award in the short story category in 2013. He was also awarded first place in the Pennsylvania Junior Academy of Science state competition at Penn State University in 2015.
He was accepted into the Immaculate Heart of Mary Honors Program, which allowed dual enrollment at Holy Cross High School and Marywood University.
According to Nardimar, Louis was enrolled in Psychology 101 at Marywood as a sophomore in high school and would have split his time between Holy Cross and Marywood as a junior.
Reach Robert Tomkavage at 570-704-3941 or on Twitter @rtomkavage.