CINCINNATI -- A group hoping to turn tragedy into hope says the Brogan Dulle reward money could help prevent more suicides by college students and other young adults.
The Crime Stoppers board awarded the $2,500 Friday to Mariam Martinez, who pledged it to the Institute of Youth Development and Excellence in Kennedy Heights to expand its mentoring program.
"I'm really happy because I think there is a lot of potential and I think there will be great things coming of it," said Martinez, who volunteers with IYDE.
"I think it's not about the dollars. I think that's like the little match that lights a flame."
Restaurateur Jeff Ruby also pledged $2,500 to IYDE after police convinced him that Martinez had led them to Dulle's body.
Dulle's family sponsored the Crime Stoppers reward to help find the 21-year-old UC student after he disappeared May 18.
Eight days later, Martinez called 911 to report seeing someone in the building she managed, next door to Dulle's apartment on East McMillan Avenue in Mount Auburn.
When police responded, they discovered Dulle's body hanging in the dark basement.
Martinez says IYDE's goal is to help young people over rough spots in their lives.
"Just having another person by their side, holding their hand or saying, 'Hey, we're going to get through this,' it's life-changing. It's life-saving," Martinez said.
Martinez and IYDE program director Riyad Shamma have lofty goals for training and deploying mentors.
"Our vision is that every youth in the world will have access to trained, effective mentors. That's kind of our long-term, 50-year-plus thing," Shamma said.
Ruby told WCPO he was miffed at how the reward money was portrayed to the public.
"It's sad that a tragedy became an 'it's-my-money-and-I-need-it-now' commercial and a dispute over a winning lottery ticket before Brogan was buried," he said.
Ruby is giving a $7,500 scholarship to Dulle's brother, Tim, who is starting at UC in the fall.
"There so much pressure on kids to not disappoint their parents, to make it in life, to be successful, and I think that has added to the increase in teen suicide," Ruby said.
That's why Martinez and Shamma believe so strongly in the power of mentoring for young adults.
"It literally does become life-saving because they don't feel that suicide is my only option," Shamma said. "They don't feel that drugs are my only option."
UC President Santa Ono privately pledged a $10,000 reward, but he hasn't made a decision about awarding the money, UC spokesperson Greg Hand said.
Ono is taking the Crime Stoppers decision under advisement, Hand said.
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