Christian Unger started selling sweet corn from Burwinkel Farms in Ross at age 12 from a stand near the Flub’s Dariette each summer until his death.
“He loved doing it,” said Jim Unger, who lived in Ross Twp. at the time, but now lives in Hamilton. “It was a really good summer gig for him.”
Christian Unger played football and was a good wrestler at Ross High School, where he graduated in 2009. But many people knew him as “the kid who sold the corn,” who would put up his big yellow-and-burgundy sign that said “Ross Ohio Sweet Corn.”
“He had the most loving heart,” his father said about his kind son.
When Christian was 18, his father noticed he was acting differently and took him to the hospital, where he was admitted for about a week and diagnosed with schizophrenia.
“That’s when our world flipped upside-down,” Jim Unger said.
The family chose to share his diagnosis with family and friends, rather than hide the illness. A decade later, 18 days before his suicide, he bought a gun from a gun shop without his family’s knowledge. At the place on a form that asked about mental illness, “of course, he put ‘no,’ because he wanted the gun,” Jim Unger said.
“I just want people to come and lift up the people that are struggling,” Unger said about Saturday’s event. “That’s what I want most.”
“It’s always nice when people are supporting each other,” Kristen Smith of the Butler County Suicide Prevention Coalition said about the Unger family’s friends stepping forward.
There will be help for struggling people and their families. Among several organizations that will have tables at the event is NAMI (the National Alliance on Mental Illness). Organizations will provide information about mental illness and suicide prevention.
Unger especially thanked the event’s executive producer, Monique “Mo” Runzer.
Jim Unger asks people to “just come out and support everyone who’s suffering with mental illness, and let’s support our loved ones who need our help and support.”