Bereaved teen organizes run to prevent suicide

Kerry Connors' "1027" Motorcycle Run on June 22 to support suicide prevention

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  • Kerry Connors, sitting on a family Harley, calls attention to the upcoming “1027 Motorcycle Run” that he organized for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. The run will be held on June 22. (Photo by Geri Corey_

“I don’t want people thinking that if you kill yourself you’ll be remembered by being on TV. You have to be remembered because you touched them in some way.”
Kerry Connors

By Geri Corey

— Thirteen-year old Kerry Connors has a love of motorcycles that he wants to use to help others.

Kerry organized the first annual “1027” Motorcycle Run that will take place on Sunday, June 22. He hopes lots of bikers will sign up to support his cause, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

Essential information

What: "1027" Motorcycle Run fundraiser to benefit the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
When: Sunday, June 22 — Check-in begins at 8 a.m. Kickstands go up at 10 a.m. Lunch is from noon to 2 p.m.
Where: Register behind Elsie’s Luncheonette, 130 West Main St., Goshen. Coffee with roll or bagel will be provided to registrants.
Cost: $25 per rider.
Lunch: At the Copper Bottom, 162 North Main St., Florida from noon to 2 p.m. Burger, fries, and a soda will be provided to registrants.

Kerry has a personal interest in this cause. In December 2000, Kerry’s father committed suicide. Kerry was born the following April, in 2001.

“Suicide is a burden for you and your family,” Kerry tells those who are suffering. “You only make yourself and your family hurt.”

Kerry wants to get the message out: there is help for everyone.

Kerry organized the run as his bar mitzvah project. The temple he previously attended required a project; however, his present temple, the Chabad in Goshen, doesn’t require one

“There was never any doubt that he would do something in support of AFSP,” his mom, Kari Connors-Buono explained. “He could have trashed the idea, but he went ahead with it — not for the temple, but for suicide prevention. He knows what it’s like to lose a parent.”

Kerry carries a heavy burden, but he’s still an average teenager with a hearty interest is sports.

“Hockey is my favorite sport,” he said. “Baseball isn’t fast-paced enough — hockey’s non-stop action.”

He plays on the Bantam and PeeWee teams at Ice Time in Newburgh. He’s going into eighth-grade, but typically, he can’t wait for this year’s school term to be over. His future plans include getting into the NHL — the National Hockey League.

Family vacations are taken on motorcycles, with plans this summer to include a trip to Lake George. Kerry has two sisters, Kayla, 21, and Kerryn, 20.

Kari is now married to Rick Buono, a retired Goshen Police officer. Both Kari and Rick ride, as did Kerry’s dad.

“It wouldn’t be a Sunday if we weren’t on motorcycles going somewhere,” said Kari.

Not a taboo subject

Lately they’ve been doing the “1027” run, which is a scenic view of the Hudson Valley about two hours long. Runs have to be named, and Kerry chose to use his father's birth date rather than his name.

“I don’t want people thinking that if you kill yourself you’ll be remembered by being on TV," Kerry said. "You have to be remembered because you touched them in some way.”

Suicide is openly discussed in the Connors-Buono home.

"The subject isn’t taboo," said Kari. "It’s a part of life. I’ve taught my children that suicide is a cancer of the emotions. When you can’t handle the pain anymore, you succumb to it. That’s not to say that we don’t get sad. We do. But it’s a part of life."

She wants people to know that they’re not alone. Help is available for families and other survivors when suicide occurs.

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, the leading not-for-profit organization exclusively dedicated to prevent suicide, is online

Anyone in crisis at any time should call 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

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