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Oyster Festival Queen contestant declares war on suicide depression

Emilie Smith and her Little Miss Spat contestant Annie Bray

Oyster Festival Queen contestant Emilie Smith and her Little Miss Spat contestant Annie Bray came together to spread awareness of teenage depression and suicide. Depression has become a major and common issue in the community that most people turn away from because it’s too scary of a tragedy to deal with, so Emilie decided to express that we as people cannot turn away from unstable, ill people who dread life and continue to live in somber surroundings. Emilie stated that all it takes is for someone to reach out, say they “are here” for someone, and tell them they are not alone. One small and simple thing can go a long way in someone’s life. 

Emilie came up with the idea of the WARR;OR Project. The objective is to signify someone who doesn’t give up. A warrior is a fighter. We are the warriors fighting back for our lives. The semicolon is a huge representation of the project. Just like in a book, when an author is writing and decides to not end a sentence, they apply a semicolon. The author is you, and the sentence is your life. You can choose to end it but, instead you fight through, and not let your sentence end.

To spread the cause and show people the significance of reaching out, Emilie and Annie both designed t-shirts to sell to the public along with making small candy bags and notepads with powerful messages on them. She also got wristbands made with the phrases “WARR;OR “ and “I Fight Back” on it.

Emilie held multiple fundraisers throughout the summer. She had three different bake sales, two at the Urbanna Farmers Market and one at Urbanna Market, which raised a lot of funds. The next big events were an Italian dinner and open mic night they held at Something Different restaurant in Urbanna. “I chose to have an open mic night along with dinner because music is such a huge part of my life and it has gotten me through a lot of dark moments,” said Emilie.

She had over 80 people attend. All of the food was donated by family and friends.

Her last event was a benefit concert held in the field behind the Urbanna firehouse. Over 150 people came out to support the fight back against depression and suicide. At the event, there was live music from the “Just Us Duo” with Beth Justice and Morgan Stewart along with small performances of original songs Emilie wrote herself. There was a silent auction of around 50 items donated from numerous local businesses. There also were many vendors in attendance that donated a percentage of their proceeds. Snow cones were sold and there were kids crafts, face painting and great food from Urbanna Seafood, which donated half of its proceeds.

All funds raised went to the Middle Peninsula-Northern Neck Community Services Board’s Division of Prevention, Health, and Wellness to support suicide prevention that promotes awareness, increases knowledge, and assists people in learning how to help others who are experiencing mental health challenges. Overall, Emilie and Annie raised over $7,200 to donate to the Suicide Prevention Taskforce.

While attending Middlesex High School Emilie has been a part of the MHS Key Club, Drama Club, and Guitar Club. She is also a member of the National Honor Society and the Spanish Honor Society. Emilie has succeeded in being an above-average athlete. She ran cross-country her freshman and sophomore years. She has been on the varsity basketball and soccer teams since she was a freshman, earning many All-Conference and All-Region medals. For soccer she has broken three different school records including goals in a season, career goals, and assists in a season. Emilie has been captain of her high school soccer team for four years and captain of the basketball team for two. Emilie also has been playing travel soccer year around for four years now for Virginia Legacy in Williamsburg. In her junior year of high school, she verbally committed to play soccer at Shenandoah University. 

After graduation, Emilie plans to attend Shenandoah University, majoring in psychology and minoring in criminal justice to become a mental health therapist.

Donations will be accepted until October 31. Contact Emilie at 804-824-8839.

Emilie is the daughter of Eric and Stephanie Smith of Urbanna, and the granddaughter of Otis and Irma Ryman, Edith Smith and the late Walter Smith. She has a younger brother, Adam Smith. 

Annie Bray, Emilie’s Little Miss Spat contestant, is the daughter of Jason and Connie Bray of Church View, and the granddaughter of George and Beverly Gibbs, Carol Elbourn, and Wayne and Betty Bray. Annie has a younger brother, Tallie Bray. Her favorite thing to do is jump on the trampoline with her brother and she would like to be a scientist and a farmer when she grows up so she can learn how to grow better crops for her daddy and granddaddy. 

posted 10.04.2017

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