I want to tell you about a friend. Her name is Daron.
I met Daron at a summer camp at NAHA where I attended high school. She didn’t attend school there but Daron and her older sister would always come to the camps over the summer. I can remember her laugh and smile and her obsession over the Jonas Brothers. I mean who doesn’t love the Jonas Brother.
We weren’t the closest but a few weeks with her at camp would later would impact me so much more than I could have ever imagined. She was a little shy from what I remember but man could she light up a room. I remember one night we were all hanging out in the hallway and it seemed like she finally started to become comfortable and open up. I remember that night vividly because she had accidentally put a hole in the hallway from dancing and having way too much fun, and in true NAHA fashion we just covered it with a poster and no one would ever question it. (Sorry Bill and Jesse!) That night, and the rest of the camp I got to see what an amazing person she was.
A few months later on November 13th I would find out before a game that Daron had committed suicide. It wasn’t until then that I knew how much a role she would play in my life. The whole hockey community was shaken and I can’t even begin to imagine what her closest family and friends felt. What I do know is that ever since that day Daron has helped me in so many ways I never even thought was a possible. A young girl that I knew at summer camp would one day save my life and help me through so many tough times. Daron you have given me courage to share my story. You have given me strength when I needed it the most.
Most importantly, you taught me the greatest lesson of them all, that it’s okay not to be okay.
We will never know what you were going through but I know that your story has saved so many lives including mine. Even writing this now I still cry because I can never truly express how eternally grateful I am for you. It has been amazing to see the Do It For Daron campaign continues to grow and raise awareness for mental health. Unfortunately your tragedy has been eye opening for so many people that you knew and people that you would never get to meet. Because of you people aren’t afraid to speak up, share their story, and little by little the stigmatism around mental health is slowly deteriorating. I wanted to share this story of how much you meant to me because I want people to know that even though you are no longer here on earth with us you will never be forgotten.
You were my saving grace and my heart will forever be purple. Thank you Daron.
Information on Daron’s story and the movement to transform youth mental health can be found at DIFD.com