Sara Dukart, former Mrs. Fargo International 2015, chose the platform of H.O.P.E. for Suicide Prevention while competing for the title. Suicide is the ninth leading cause of death, and first in North Dakota for the ages of 15-24. There were 133 deaths in 2014. However, suicide attempts are far more prevalent.
In 2012, approximately 483,596 people were treated in mental health facilities for self-inflicted injuries; however, many others fail to seek help. These statistics represent only a fraction of why Sara decided H.O.P.E. would be a perfect platform, because for her this goes beyond winning a pageant. The acronym actually stands for “Hold On, Pain Ends.”
“I’m a survivor of a suicide attempt, and I thought it was really important to use my story to empower others with the message of hope” she said. Sara is also a registered nurse, so her professional side means she has “a very deep and understanding of this issue.”
Once her platform was decided, Sara teamed up with Evolution Fitness — a company dedicated to offering personal training, nutrition, and motivation — for the upcoming fundraiser You Matter on February 5. They also partnered in 2014 when Sarah competed in her first pageant. “I was her fitness coach… I helped her get on track,” said Justin Mickels, owner of Evolution Fitness.
Justin and Sara also credit Stephen Leard, a mutual friend and Evolution Fitness athlete, for inspiring them to partner for the fundraising opportunity. “He contacted both of us and wanted to bring her cause and fitness together,” Justin said.“We really want to break down the stigma that surrounds mental health and show how important your physical health is….and show the benefits you can get from working out and eating health.”
Evolution Fitness also helped Sara get into tip-top shape for the recent Mrs. North Dakota International Pageant. She described her experience as amazing. “They aren’t just a fitness business,” Sara said. “They are a support system. They want to see everyone succeed.” Sara also said Evolution Fitness has not only encouraged her fitness journey, but her platform as well.
In September, Sara organized team H.O.P.E. to walk in the 10th Annual Out of the Darkness Community Walk. Their message of “Hold On, Pain Ends” was just one of many written on their t-shirts. “I didn’t have coping mechanisms,” Sara said during her presentation at the event. “I didn’t necessarily want to die, but I wanted the pain to go away.”
Sara and team H.O.P.E. were joined by more than 1,000 walkers who have been affected by suicide. Mary Weiler, founder of the North Dakota chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, spoke and presented awards to volunteers.
In addition to speaking about her experience at various suicide prevention events, Sara is an avid runner and raises money through the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention.
All the work Sara and Justin have done will culminate at You Matter on February 5 .The fundraising social will consist of five speakers, raffle prizes, and informational booths, including one provided by Evolution Fitness. All proceeds will be donated to the North Dakota Chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
For tickets please visit EventBrite.com.
*Sara Dukart is now representing Montana where she will continue to empower and provide hope for those who have been impacted by suicide. Wish Sara luck as she takes on a new journey as Mrs. Montana International 2016.