DYERSVILLE, Iowa – A local fundraiser held Saturday tried to put a focus on mental health.
About 130 people attended Dyersville Golf and Country Club to raise funds in honor of Matthew Boland, of Epworth, who died by suicide in late January. Boland’s parents and siblings organized the event to raise money for the Dubuque chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness and Boland’s two daughters.
“We have a big family and we all want to help,” said Diana Conrad, Boland’s mother. “I’m excited to see what the future holds for Matthew.”
During Saturday’s event, attendees had the opportunity to play nine holes of golf, have lunch and participate in a silent auction and raffle.
Boland’s sister, Nicole Kennedy, wore a bracelet with the words “It’s okay not to be okay,” which reflects the message Boland’s family wanted to spread.
Fundraising provided an opportunity to raise awareness about mental health, but also to have fun playing golf, a favorite pastime of Boland.
“Matthew wouldn’t want it any other way,” said Jessica Frye of Peosta, another of Boland’s sisters.
Conrad said the family expects to raise more than $ 10,000. He noted that while he would have been happy to find 15 companies to sponsor the event, 35 ended up doing so.
Family friend Terry Boffeli of Holy Cross took over the direction of the kitchen for Saturday’s event. He said it felt good to help raise awareness about mental health, a topic he noted has been an important part of his life.
Boffeli lost a friend to suicide last year and has two brothers working in the field of psychology. He said he thinks people are afraid to come when they fight their “inner demons,” but they should know it’s okay to have problems.
“It shouldn’t be necessary, but sometimes it takes tragedy and sadness to open people’s eyes (to mental health),” Boffeli said.
Organizers also raised funds by selling sweatshirts and T-shirts. The front of the T-shirts wore a green ribbon, the international symbol of mental health awareness, which was part of a heart.
Lori Ollendick, of Dubuque, a family friend and mental health counselor at the Harbor Wellness & Counseling Center, said everyone wants to do something to support the family.
He said he also wants people to know and understand the resources NAMI Dubuque offers, such as its efforts to talk to police officers and students about mental health awareness.
Conrad said she and her family are considering doing the annual event and possibly setting up a foundation in Boland’s honor to raise money to support mental health resources.
“I’m overwhelmed with community support,” Conrad said.