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Spirit of Acadiana: Track Meet With A Message

Rene Trahan Track Meet
Posted at 7:11 PM, Mar 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-22 20:11:15-04

When you think of the sport track and field, you think of endurance and timing, speed and strength.

Friday in Abbeville, there was a track meet, the true meaning of which transcended the world of sports.

"This is the annual Rene' Trahan Memorial Track Meet,” explains Abbeville High Track Coach Kipp Duplechine. “We had a track star years ago, and her family's been putting this on for the better part of a decade. It's really to inform the public about suicide awareness."

A proud Abbeville High graduate in 1996, Rene' Trahan was a track and field legend in Vermilion Parish particularly in the javelin event. But 12 years later--- tragedy--- as matters of adulthood and the world around her became too much for Rene' to take.

“And she died by suicide in 2008,” says her sister Alisha.

The Trahan family decided Rene's story, her successes and yes, her struggles, weren't going to be forgotten. They began this meet, 15 schools and with boys and girls teams this year alone, to bring suicide awareness to the forefront.

Rene's sister Alisha has one basic goal for those in need and for those who love them:

“To stop the stigma,” hopes Alisha. “People don't talk about suicide, and it's so more common nowadays than when I was in high school or when Rene' was in high school. But people don't talk enough about it, and to me, when you're going through the depression, if you know people don't want to talk about it, you're not gonna’ open up.”

Each of participating schools brought back suicide prevention materials for counselors, teachers and administrators. and there are lessons for the students themselves, some of whom may have been participating in this very meet.

“Just teaching 'em how to reach out, just to recognize the signs of some going through struggles, who might need a helping hand to get out of a situation that they're in,” adds Duplechine.

The Trahan family so greatly appreciated having this venue to emphasize that Rene's life mattered, and like so many others, she, too, struggled mightily with balancing the pressures of life.

“I just feel like I'm doing what she wanted to do. To be remembered by sports, and not so much suicide, so this is a little bit of both.”

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