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The Flor-Ala

The Student News Site of University of North Alabama

The Flor-Ala

The Student News Site of University of North Alabama

The Flor-Ala

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Gregory brings awareness to mental health with the 15 Minute Project

In December 2019, Emma Gregory was fighting anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts as she drove to the Sheffield side of O’Neal Bridge. She intended to commit suicide and was on the phone with her best friend to say goodbye when Sheffield Police Sergeant Nick Risner saved her life. Risner had gotten off of work 15 minutes early and came into contact with Gregory on the bridge. 

“Those 15 minutes saved my life,” said Gregory. 

Risner gave her his business card with his personal phone number written on the back and told her to call if she ever needed to talk. Gregory eventually took him up on his offer. He would become like a father figure to her throughout the times they spoke. Risner encouraged Gregory to share her story. She recorded her story with Broken Not Dead Ministries –  a non-profit that began in 2018 to share the stories of people who feel lost and help guide them to Christianity. Gregory wanted the both of them to be in the video, but Risner said it was her story. 

“I always say it’s our story,” said Gregory. “Because without him I wouldn’t have a story.” 

In 2021, Sergeant Risner was shot in the line of duty and died due to his injuries later in the hospital. Gregory had a hard time with his passing. She had to move out of her dorm and almost dropped out of UNA. 

“Nick was like the glue that put me back together, so losing him was just like everything happened all over again, but plus losing one of the most important people in my life,” said Gregory. 

After months of healing, she contacted Steventhen Holland – the founder of Broken Not Dead ministries – and decided she needed to keep his memory alive by helping people who have been in similar situations to her experience in 2019. She brainstormed ideas with Holland and came up with starting a non-profit for her cause. She named it “The 15 Minute Project.” 

Gregory wanted to hold the organization’s first event in Sheffield to commemorate Risner, and she felt it was very successful. After the event, Gregory wanted to continue sharing her story and spreading the word. She decided that, to get the connections she wants on campus, she should hold an event on campus and to focus on students. The event will be held at the Memorial Amphitheater on April 25 from 5 to 7 p.m. There will be music, lights and games. The event will have food for the attendees. A culinary student created a menu that includes allergen-friendly options. A big goal of planning this event was inclusivity. 

The 15-minute project is now a registered student organization on campus. Gregory did this with hopes of connecting with the students who live on campus better. 

“If I could find even one student who is as passionate as I am about suicide prevention and mental health awareness, I would love to continue this organization,” said Gregory. 

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About the Contributor
Trenedy Parks
Trenedy Parks, News Editor
Trenedy Parks is a sophomore from Fayetteville, Tenne. She is working towards a bachelor’s degree in journalism and digital media. She has worked as a staff writer for The Flor-Ala since Aug. 2022, and as News Editor since Aug. 2023. Her goals as a writer are to learn more about Florence and its community and to become more involved with the people of UNA.

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