BALTIMORE (WJZ) — A rock event for the ages. A Maryland foundation earned the Guinness World Record for the most painted rocks in one place at one time.

“Some of them are just complete works of art,” said volunteer Shawn O’Connell. “It’s really cool to see how they’re all turning out.”

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Even bigger than the display, and more important than the art, is the message and meaning behind it.

“I would say these rocks or what saved my life,” said William York, of the Joshua York Legacy Foundation.

In July of 2018, William lost his son to suicide followed by his ex-wife just six months later out of grief.

Painting rocks became a therapy for him, one that he encourages through the foundation with hopes that they would be spread throughout communities to let people know they are not alone.

“Painting for us helped heal us,” explains York, “and we wanted to share that with the world.”

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He put a call out on Facebook letting people know they were attempting to breaking the world record for most painted rocks in one place to raise mental health and suicide awareness.

The rocks would come from far and wide — every state and nine different countries.

“It’s very emotional for us,” said York

They earned the record with 21,970 hand painted rocks. The old record was just over 8,000.

Once the count is finalized, the rocks will be shipped across the county to be placed in random places to spread a message of hope.

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“We have some many stories that come through on our group and people find a rock at the worst possible time and they’ll write to us and say, ‘I was going to hurt myself today and I found one of your rocks,” York said.

Sean Streicher