Gone too soon, a former Saginaw Spirit player is being remembered tonight with an event to shine a light on mental illness.
The Saginaw Spirit and McLaren Bay Medical Foundation partnered up to host Mental Health Awareness Night, to honor Terry Trafford, who took his own life nearly 5 years ago.
On March 11, 2014, police found a truck with a deceased man at the Saginaw Township Walmart parking lot. That truck belonged to Terry Trafford, thus confirming his unfortunate death. It was a tragic situation, but Terry's name would not go in vain.
"This event is certainly doing that by working with 21 vendors in the Red Room, educating and creating awareness in our community, where people go when they themselves or a loved one may in need of mental health support and if we can just affect one life in a positive way, then we've been successful with this event," Craig Goslin said. Goslin is the Saginaw Spirit Team President.
To make this event successful, Saginaw Spirit joined forces with McLaren Bay Region to emphasize the importance of mental health and provide the community with plenty of support services.
"If you do not feel good, you are depressed and sad, it's very hard to physically feel well. McLaren is really focused on mental health and providing the best mental health services to the tri-counties," Jennifer Whyte said. Whyte is the Program Manager Behavioral Health at McLaren Bay Region.
In a game that demands physical strength and mental focus, young athletes can benefit from these resources.
"Our players are under a lot of pressure. They're highly scouted for the NHL, and they're at a point in their age where they're teenagers living away from home, and there's a lot things they have to deal with that a normal teenager might not have to. We definitely encourage our players to talk," Dave Drinkill said. Drinkill is the Saginaw Spirit general manager.
Organizers of Saturday's event say they hope to provide resources, but more importantly, they want to send a strong message.
"You're not alone. There's a lot of people that suffer with it, and don't be afraid to come forward and talk. It doesn't show weakness. It doesn't show a sign of anything. It's an illness that can be treated that needs to be helped and you need to be able to talk in order for that to happen," Drinkill said.
"Talk Today" is mandatory training for every player in the OHL, and they have embraced it with open arms.
Before the game, the Saginaw Spirit honored Terry Trafford with a moment of silence and encouraged open discussion to continue fighting the stigma against mental health.