- Associated Press - Saturday, December 26, 2015

PARKERSBURG, W.Va. (AP) - Businessman Doug Kreinik has turned a recent family tragedy into a way to support grief and drug-abuse counseling in the Mid-Ohio Valley.

Charles Austin Kreinik, son of Kreinik Manufacturing owner Doug Kreinik and his wife, Myla Kreinik, took his own life in April of this year, Doug Kreinik said.

Instead of attempting to hide what happened, the Kreiniks have made every effort to encourage people to get help for the depression that can lead to suicide, and to encourage local grief counseling on a regular basis in the Mid-Ohio Valley, he said.

In order to help fund grief counseling, suicide prevention, and drug addiction counseling in the area, Kreinik Manufacturing has created the C.A.K.S. Project, Kreinik said.

The Charles Austin Kreinik Shoelaces, more commonly referred to as C.A.K.S., are designer shoelaces created to spread the word about suicide prevention and to fund the needed program in the local area, he said.

After their son died of suicide in April, the Kreiniks found the only grief counseling available locally was on a once-a-month basis, Kreinik said. The family is striving to remove the stigma associated with suicide in the Mid-Ohio Valley, he said.

“Many people in this area hide suicide. We don’t hide it; we talk about it. It’s not a sin; it’s a disease,” Kreinik said.

During their efforts to speak out, the Kreiniks have heard comments from many people about the way their families were allegedly treated after loved ones likewise committed suicide, Kreinik said.

“It’s common for me to have someone tell me that a clergyman said their loved one is going to hell because they completed suicide. That’s just sick,” Kreinik said.

The idea for C.A.K.S. came to Kreinik in a dream shortly after his son passed away.

“One morning, Charles came to me in a dream. All he said was ‘shoelaces, Dad.’ And I listened,” Kreinik said.

Kreinik dug a retired machine out of storage at his plant, and put it back into commission - a machine that creates shoelaces, including putting the tips on them, he said. The shoelaces began coming out in a variety of colors and styles.

The shoelaces were first available at the beginning of December, Kreinik said. In the first two weeks, more than 250 pairs of laces have been sold, he said. Orders for the shoelaces are piling up, with more than 150 orders waiting to be processed as of mid-December.

The shoelaces come in a variety of colors, Kreinik said. Common colors available now include yellow, pink, green and orange in the glow-in-the-dark variety; and non-glowing shades of purple, pink, green orange, yellow and blue.

“Orange (laces) on black or gray shoes looks really fantastic,” Kreinik said.

The colors of laces available will change from season to season, he said. Right now, Christmas colors are in, but in February they will change over to reds and pinks; while Easter will see pastel versions on the shelves.

The laces are available in bulk orders of custom colors for fundraisers or events such as weddings, proms, or special holiday items.

These shoelaces are available in lengths of 45 or 60 inches, Kreinik said. They cost $11 a pair, including shipping and handling, if purchased from the Kreinik store, located inside the factory at 1708 Gihon Road in south Parkersburg, or from the website at kreinik.com, he said.

The laces can also be found locally at Fashion Gallery, 1515 Grand Central Ave., No. 6, in Vienna, Kreinik said.

Up to 10 percent of the proceeds from each pair of laces sold will go to the Charles Fund at the Parkersburg Area Community Foundation, which has been set up in their son’s name to help provide grief counseling, drug addiction counseling, suicide prevention services, and scholarships to those wishing to study grief counseling from the area, Kreinik said.

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Information from: News and Sentinel (Parkersburg, W.Va.), https://www.newsandsentinel.com

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