Haunted farm raises funds for teen suicide prevention.

October 22, 2017 12:42 AM

DALTON, MA - Lurking in the corn maze of the Grey Goose farm in Dalton, Massachusetts Saturday night were a bunch of scary characters. 

However, the haunted farm is more than just a good scare ahead of Halloween.

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“The more people we talk to the more people we realized in our own community are impacted by suicide,” said farm owner Betsy Nichols. 

“This is our sixth year now,” said volunteer Jake Pyra. “We do this to raise awareness for teen suicide prevention. All of our proceeds go to the Berkshire coalition for suicide prevention.”

Nichols and her friend, Joann, came up with the idea and helped raise tens of thousands of dollars with haunted hayrides for the past 5 years. 

This year the decided to have haunted corn maze.

None of it would be possible without dozens of ghostly volunteers in high school and college along with older volunteers, including Nichols’ son, Sean Walker, and his girlfriend Michelle O’Neill. 

“We practice…we were zombies the other night so we watch The Walking Dead and things like that,” Walker said. “Practice being zombies around the house.” 

“Oh I like to crawl on the ground,” O’Neill said. “I like to make weird noises. I'd like to chase people down the path and it's very effective.”

For four days over the past two weekends the farm has sold out the event.

It has hosted about 350 people each night. 

Months of planning for the event starts in April. 

The corn is planted in July so that it lasts until the fall in time for the hunted tour.”

“Well our theme this year's holidays gone bad,” Nichols said. 

“We have some leprechauns for St. Patrick's Day,” Pyra said. “We had some crazy pirates for Columbus Day.”

While all the freight is a lot of fun, suicide is a serious issue for many people in the community, including Pyra. 
“Unfortunately there's been a few over the years in the community that we've lost,” he said. 

“Somebody in our lives who thankfully didn't succeed but just knowing that they had that thought,” Nichols’ said. 

These volunteers are hoping to make a difference, one scream at a time. 

The event raised $17,085 this year and about $114,585 since it started. 

A CDC study shows 17 percent of high school age students in 2013 seriously considered suicide in the previous 12 months while 8 percent of high school age students committed suicide in the previous 12 months of 2013.


Nia Hamm

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