One of the nation’s leading suicide prevention advocates – with a harrowing, inspiring story to tell – will return to speak in the Quad Cities.

Kevin Hines will be the featured speaker at the second-annual Starry Night Gala: a night of fundraising for the Foster Cares Fund, on Saturday, Nov. 4, 2023, presented by The Gray Matters Collective, Foster’s Voice, and QC Counselor.

Kevin Hines and Gray Matters Collective president Haley DeGreve, on Sept. 30, 2021.

Hines, 42, is one of only 36 people (less than 1%) to survive the fall from the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, in a suicide attempt. He is a best-selling author, global public speaker, and award-winning documentary filmmaker. In the year 2000, a 19-year-old Hines attempted to take his life by jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge, and now travels the world sharing his story of hope, healing, and recovery.

Hines was the keynote speaker for “Can’t Replace You” – a conference Sept. 30, 2021 at the Holiday Inn Ballroom, Rock Island, presented by Foster’s Voice and The Gray Matters Collective.

Foster’s Voice, Inc., is a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping others with depression and advocating for suicide awareness and prevention. It’s named for Foster Atwood, a 19-year-old United Township grad struggling with depression who took his life on July 21, 2017.

Hines (second from left) with Foster’s Voice founders Kevin and Jaime Atwood, and Gray Matters president Haley DeGreve (right).

The Gray Matters, co-founded by 2020 Augustana College alum Haley DeGreve, is a mental health campaign that seeks to initiate conversation around the gray area between mental health awareness and stigma. The goal is to spread a message of hope, solidarity, and compassion.

The first Starry Night Gala was held last November at Golden Leaf in Davenport, and it raised $40,238 for the new Foster Cares Fund. The new fund supports free mental health counseling for those in financial hardship.

The Starry Night Gala ($85 per person) is a night of fundraising, raffles, dancing, amazing speakers, and the crowning of the next Mr. Starry Night. On Nov. 4, doors will open at 5 p.m., at the QC Waterfront Convention Center, 2021 State St., Bettendorf.

The second annual Mr. Starry Night competition features men’s mental health advocates. The contestant with the most funds raised wins the crown. You can donate for each contestant HERE.

2023 Mr. Starry Night contestants Austin Bramm (top left), Ethan Rivera (top middle), Peyton Sand (top right), Sean McAllister (bottom left), and Elijah Young.

DeGreve had Hines as a special guest on a January 2021 episode of her “Surviving the Suck” mental health podcast. At the time, she called him “a dear friend of mine and a pure inspiration for millions of people.”

Hines gained nationwide fame for surviving an attempt at taking his own life by jumping from the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco at age 19. After leaping, Hines, as described by Time, had instant regret: “When my hands left that rail—and my legs curled over—as soon as I left the bridge, I thought, ‘I don’t want to die’,” he said.

He had gone over the railing head first, but when he regretted his decision, turned himself around to land in the water legs first. The impact force was comparable to slamming into a concrete wall. After he’d surfaced, he felt a creature nudging his body which he initially thought was a shark trying to eat him, and punched at it. The creature was later identified as a sea lion by a witness. The sea lion helped keep Hines afloat until he was rescued by the Coast Guard.

Some of the many attendees at the first Starry Night Gala in November 2022 at the Golden Leaf Banquet Center in Davenport.

“He is not only saving lives, but changing the world each and every day,” DeGreve said. “It’s because of Kevin’s story that The Gray Matters Collective is in existence and why I am an advocate.”

You can reserve tickets for the Starry Night Gala HERE.

Sept. 17 Geneseo walk

Gray Matters Collective is presenting a special event next weekend as part of National Suicide Prevention Month. “Keep Marching Forward” will be on Sunday, Sept. 17, 6 to 8 p.m. at the Geneseo Park District Athletic Field, 407 East North Street.

It’s hosted by The Gray Matters Collective and the Geneseo Park District to honor all lives lost to suicide. They will begin with a collective march (feel free to bring posters or other items), followed by suicide loss speakers, performances, a light ceremony, and a resource fair.

For more information on Gray Matters, click HERE.