OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Feb. 2, 2011) - Luke Richardson, the Royal Ottawa Foundation for Mental Health, the Sens Foundation and the Ottawa Senators announced today the creation of awareness and fundraising initiatives designed to inspire conversations about youth mental health.
In November 2010, Richardson's daughter, Daron, 14, took her own life.
"We lost a beautiful daughter and sister," said Luke Richardson, on behalf of his wife, Stephanie and 16-year-old daughter Morgan. "Daron was also a dear friend and teammate to many. She is sorely missed by all of us."
"At that very tragic time in November we made the decision to speak publically about suicide because we wanted to make a difference in the lives of others. We wanted to do what was best for Morgan, for the three of us to understand, to remember Daron and move forward." added Richardson.
"We are a close family. We spend a lot of time together. We talk about a lot of things; sex, drugs, alcohol, bullying and the internet. But there was one conversation we never had. Mental health. Suicide. We pray and hope that you have that conversation yourself, or with a friend or family member."
The Richardsons' openness and desire for everyone to "have that conversation" has prompted the Sens Foundation and Ottawa Senators to host an annual D.I.F.D. Youth Mental Health Awareness Night at Scotiabank Place. The first event will happen when the Senators play the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday, Feb. 26.
The Feb. 26 event will highlight for fans the issues of youth mental illness, and promote organizations and resources within the community that offer mental health support services to youth and their families. Fans will also be able to participate in fundraising activities.
The Richardson family announced a personal donation of $100,000 to match the generosity of what the community has contributed to the Daron Richardson Fund at the Royal Ottawa Foundation for Mental Health. These funds will also be directed to the early identification and intervention program and study for youth at the Royal Ottawa.
The early identification and intervention program provides information about mental health and mental illness to youth attending schools and the community at large to decrease stigma and promote awareness.
The Sens Foundation plans to add an additional $100,000 to its previous pledge, bringing its investment in youth mental health to $200,000.
Grassroots fundraising activities in communities across North America have contributed more than $100,000 to the fund. One such initiative is the D.I.F.D. Purple Pledge Day on Feb. 8, when thousands of people in schools, on hockey teams and in the business community will wear purple and pledge their support to the Daron Richardson Fund. Feb. 8 marks what would have been Daron's 15th birthday.
"D.I.F.D. represents a community movement to harness energy and action to help more youth feel empowered. Involvement brings empowerment. Empowerment brings action and action leads to change," said Tim Kluke, president of the Royal Ottawa Foundation for Mental Health.
"To prevent future tragedies, hospitals, school boards, child and youth agencies and services as well as committed individuals and families have joined together as one suicide prevention and intervention group to better coordinate and respond effectively to the needs of youth. This is an important step forward," added Kluke.
The Royal Ottawa
The Royal is a regional specialized mental health resource providing best care across eastern Ontario and in communities in northern Canada. The Royal is also recognized as an academic science centre of excellence where world-class breakthroughs in research and patient care happen. The Royal Ottawa's Foundation for Mental Health raises funds to support patient care and leading-edge research. Through it's You Know Who I Am anti-stigma campaign represented by Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson, the foundation is focused on building awareness and improving the health and lives of those living with mental illness.
The mission of the Sens Foundation is to leverage and provide both financial and in-kind support to registered charitable organizations whose programs focus on improving the quality of life for children and youth in eastern Ontario and western Quebec. Needs are addressed in the areas of education, health, sport and recreation. Our vision is "for greater goals" in making these off-ice "assists" a reality.
For additional resource and interview contacts, please visit: http://senators.nhl.com/v2/ext/PDFs/DIFD-Facts-Contacts.pdf