Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By Lois E. Johnson
Moose Lake Star-Gazette 

Raising awareness in honor of Allen Audette


Lois E. Johnson

Thirty-two skateboarders on the Williard Munger State Trail in Barnum. They were skating 150 miles from Duluth to Blaine as part of Allen's Hope, in honor of Allen Audette, a teen who took his life last year.

Thirty-two skateboarders and their support team started out from Duluth on Friday, June 23, and stopped in Moose Lake in the afternoon for lunch and a ceremony at the Matt Milczark Pavilion.

The skateboarders were riding 150 miles from Duluth to Blaine on long boards in honor of Allen Audette, 16, who took his own life on May 18, 2016. He was in 10th grade at East Central High School.

"Allen suffered from mental health and anxiety issues," said Laurie Audette, Allen's mother, in an interview at the pavilion. "This group is pushing for awareness of mental health and removing the stigma of depression. Family and friends are with us, as well as kids from Duluth. Many of them did not know him."

Later, when the skateboarders arrived in Moose Lake, Laurie spoke to the group.

"My life was shattered when, just a little over a year ago, my son took his life," she said. "Allen was a kind and loyal child. He was protective of his sister and his classmates. He said on several occasions that he wanted to build a shelter for the homeless.

"He was a young child when he was diagnosed with ADHD. We tried to help him. If there was something that he wanted to do, we tried to give that to him.

"On the second day of school in September 2015, he attempted to take his life. He was found and rushed to the hospital. He was admitted to residential care and diagnosed with depression and anxiety.

"We took him to many appointments, seeking help. In April he asked for more help. And then, on May 18, he was successful in taking his life.

"We only have one child now but I will always have two children, one at my side and one in my heart.

"He can no longer speak for himself but I will speak for him. I will tell his story over and over. You can help get the changes made. Volunteer and write to our representatives.

"If you are struggling, ask for help. Don't be ashamed, your story will help others."

Allen's Hope can be found on Facebook. Audette said she is also in the process of setting up a website.

"It's a silent problem," she said in the interview. "No one wants to talk about it. It is a disease, just like cancer or diabetes."

The group ended the skate in Blaine on Sunday.


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