EUCLID, Ohio — The holiday season is all about giving and one Euclid couple is doing that in a big way this year by helping another family overcome tragedy.
Monday marked 23 years since Frank Negolfka’s dad died by suicide. Negolfka was just 14-years-old and said the grief held a grip on him for the next 21 years.
“Lots of depression, suicidal thoughts a lot. I just wasn't happy, couldn't find ways to become happy. I wasn't doing anything to help myself,” said Negolfka.
News 5 first spoke to Negolfka back in January 2020, three weeks after he created the Silent Sufferers Facebook group to connect with other people struggling with mental health issues. Since then, the group has grown to more than 1,500 members.
Opening up inspired Negolfka to write and publish a book about his life experiences called ‘The Silent Sufferer: Inspired by True Events.’
“It just keeps snowballing and snowballing and it's a good feeling. It's nice. It makes me feel good,” said Negolfka.
He’s also found love with girlfriend Janet Murrin-Russ. The two former classmates reconnected after Murrin-Russ saw Negolfka’s story on News 5.
Now, as he continues his healing journey, they want to help someone else start theirs with their Hope for the Holidays initiative.
“It’s like a guardian angel just came and all the pieces just kind of laid out and laid out,” said Murrin-Russ.
They’re hoping to raise $2,000 for a local single mom and her four kids, two of which have special needs. They don’t want to be identified, but Murrin-Russ said they’re grieving after another parent died by suicide earlier this year.
“This family kind of feels isolated right now. That's not okay. And this family they just really–they have hope. It really lifted their spirits when they found out,” said Murrin-Russ.
Murrin-Russ handled the creation of the website, which suffered a setback when the first platform they tried to host through took it down.
She was successful on the second try, and now they’re raising the money through a series of raffles of donated items from people in the community, and an auction featuring a football signed by Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback Kurt Warner.
“That's still kind of cool. I was always a fan, always heard he was a nice guy. I sent a thing and he goes, ‘How can I help?’ And before I knew it, he was sending a football,” said Negolfka. “And it just boggled my mind how quickly that worked.”
Now, halfway to their goal and with more hopefully to come, Negolfka and Murrin-Russ are just grateful for the support and happy to be a blessing to someone else this holiday season.
“I feel humbled, I feel just very–my problems, which are huge problems, are so insignificant. It just makes you realize how priceless life is and how it could be gone in the blink of an eye,” said Murrin-Russ.
Most of the raffles and the auction for the signed Kurt Warner football end Saturday evening. Anyone interested in participating, click here.
RELATED STORY: Euclid man creates Facebook group to help 'silent sufferers'
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