The highlight of my week (so far!) was on Monday when I attended an event for the #SickNotWeak mental health awareness campaign and a local youth suicide awareness group.
SickNotWeak is a campaign initiated by "famous" Canadian sportscaster Michael Landsberg to destigmatize mental illness, with an emphasis on depression because that is what he suffers from. A lot of the publicity for the campaign comes from sports figures who are willing to honest about their struggles. This was a dinner and speaking event with several very known well athletes who all have connections with mental illness.
Clint was incredibly emotional talking about his ups and downs and admitted he still has the bullet in his head from when he tried to kill himself, which is not something that was public knowledge before I do not think. He always had OCD and was a goalie who suffered a slit throat from a skate and was only saved by a team doctor who stuck his fingers into his neck to pinch off the loose carotid artery ends. He never watched the footage but when he saw a similar accident happen several years later he developed PTSD and was prescribed anti-psychotics so he could continue playing, but that was the end of his career. Big tough guy that could not handle seeing a bit of blood. But that was not something you talked about back then. He began boozing and drugging and only sought help after his 2nd suicide attempt.
Hayley is the greatest female hockey player of all-time. A household name in Canada. She went into a deep depression after losing the Olympic gold medal game at age 19. She was always the best and all of a sudden was a big failure. Even though it is standard procedure now, that was not a phenomenon that sports psychologists managed at that time. She also had very bad post-partum and had a NHL friend that ODed. She probably had the best laugh line of the night when she said (about the time that the US just missed an empty netter that you have never seen a bunch of women so happy about 2 inches.
Theo Fleury, an NHL superstar, was the headline speaker and it would be an understatement to say that he was an incredible speaker. He grew up in a household with 2 addicts as parents, was always told that he was too small to play in the NHL and so had "not good enough" syndrome, was mentored by a coach that promised him it would happen then raped him hundreds of times, ended up drinking a case of vodka and snorting $3,500 of coke a week, would take the Trump helicopter to Atlantic City after games and, after gambling and screwing hookers all night, would get back to NYC for morning practice. He got kicked out of the NHL and after buying a gun and sticking it in his mouth decided he needed to talk.
Theo had a very good point at the end of his talk. As someone standing on a stage with a mike in front of a big audience, most people want to hear laughter or clapping and whatnot. But he likes it the best when there is absolute silence since that means people are thinking. There was a lot of clapping and laughing, but also a lot of silence. And he was masterful in utilizing those moments.
I can't stress how much he was an amazing speaker. That is what he does now full time. If you ever get a chance to hear him speak, please do so. We were the event sponsor so he sat at my table and was quite chatty during the 4 hour event.
Other hockey guys with local connections were there as well: Steve Larmer, Cory Stillman, Jody Hull, etc. Luke Richardson talked briefly about the foundation he started after his 14 year old daughter committed suicide. His 14 year old daughter.
I have never asked for a picture like this before but but here is a pic of me and a rather dapper Theo Fleury: