UK Happenings

Longtime UK Employee Transforms Personal Tragedy Into Public Campaign

Angela Wiese with her family
photo of UK employee Angela Wiese with her three children
Brothers' Run 3K logo of blue and yellow legs running

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Sept. 5, 2019) For Angela Wiese, an employee of the University of Kentucky for 29 years in the College of Agriculture, Food and Environment, personal tragedy led her to launching a 3K run in memory of her two sons.

Her oldest son, Mason, had just launched his military career after graduating from high school. He died by suicide at the age of 19.

“It rocked our family. Every day was a struggle. We just wanted to understand ‘why’ and ‘how’ this could have happened to our family,” Wiese said.

Angela and her family worked hard to reconcile the loss of a big brother and son. Keeping up with normal family events and traditions such as holidays, vacations and birthdays was extremely difficult.

“We did the best we could,” she said.

Less than two years after Mason’s death, her younger son and senior high school student, Ethan, also died by suicide.

“Through counseling, education and by working hard to integrate my grief into my life, I have come to understand that the most important thing we as a society must do, is to talk about suicide,” said Wiese.

After taking time to process Ethan’s passing in 2017, Wiese decided to organize the Brothers’ Run to raise awareness and honor her two sons. Her co-workers and other members of the UK community have supported her and her family every step of the way.

“When reaching out to those friends with my vision, they jumped right in to help me create Brothers’ Run. Without their resourcefulness and eagerness to help I am not sure I would have been able to organize the run. By sharing my story and the spirit of Brothers’ Run, UK is helping support suicide prevention efforts for teens beyond what I could do by myself,” she said.

Wiese and her family have started the Brothers’ Run 3K to encourage members of the community to unite in reaching out to friends and family. “It’s about families coming together and trying something new and supporting each other in a fun and uplifting environment. It’s about supporting schools in providing resources to make progress and programs happen."

Wiese understands all too well the importance of continuing to educate young people, especially college students, about suicide awareness programs. She also recognizes how awareness education in schools can lead to having honest conversations in communities and at home.

“I think Dr. Capilouto’s support for increasing awareness about suicide on campus and at the hospital is important as well. I have been following his communications on prevention and I’m thankful he has made it a priority for UK,” Wiese said.

Angela Wiese hopes to inspire other members of the UK and Central Kentucky community to reach out to others. Her advice for supporting members of the UK community: education.

“Get involved and learn about what is going on in your community and your schools. Continue to talk about mental health awareness to help erase the stigma,” she said.

The inaugural Brothers’ Run 3K and Kids Fun Run will take place at 9 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 7,  in downtown Versailles, Kentucky. The race coincides with National Suicide Prevention Week and will benefit school programs providing adolescent mental health, suicide prevention and awareness. Visit this link to learn more about the Brothers’ Run 3K.

The University of Kentucky is increasingly the first choice for students, faculty and staff to pursue their passions and their professional goals. In the last two years, Forbes has named UK among the best employers for diversity and INSIGHT into Diversity recognized us as a Diversity Champion two years running. UK is ranked among the top 30 campuses in the nation for LGBTQ* inclusion and safety. The Chronicle of Higher Education judged us a “Great College to Work for," and UK is among only 22 universities in the country on Forbes' list of "America's Best Employers."  We are ranked among the top 10 percent of public institutions for research expenditures — a tangible symbol of our breadth and depth as a university focused on discovery that changes lives and communities. And our patients know and appreciate the fact that UK HealthCare has been named the state’s top hospital for three straight years. Accolades and honors are great. But they are more important for what they represent: the idea that creating a community of belonging and commitment to excellence is how we honor our mission to be not simply the University of Kentucky, but the University for Kentucky.