Spinnin’ for Daron and some peace of mind

Pardon the Eruption

By Terrance Gavan

Last February Ottawa Senators Assistant Coach Luke Richardson spoke about the death of his daughter Daron for the first time.

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Carrie Hirst is an avid spinner. She wants Haliburton to open their hearts to the cause of youth mental health. Photo Terrance Gavan.

He made that decision with the support of his family – and not surprisingly with the full public support of the Ottawa Sens organization.

Call it a leap of faith. Luke did it in memory of his young daughter, with a fervent and reverential hope that it might prevent other young students from taking that terminal last step.

Daron Richardson, a vivacious young girl, 14, committed suicide in November, 2010.

Her family chose to go public with her death in an effort to raise awareness about suicide and youth mental health.

“We lost a beautiful daughter and sister,”RichardsontoldCTVat the time.

“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.”

Some choose to heal privately. Fair dues. TheRichardsonfamily went through a significant counseling process. They decided to go public with their story. More important they chose to step floodlit front stage with Daron’s story.

“At that very tragic time in November we made the decision to speak publicly about suicide because we wanted to make a difference in the lives of others. We wanted to do what was best for Morgan (Daron’s sister), for the three of us to understand, to remember Daron and move forward,” saidRichardson.

Luke Richardson took a stand, drew a line in the sand and said: ‘this far no further.’ Margaret Trudeau, Senator Michael Kirby and the recently formed Do it For Daron project have some fundamental tenets in common. By seeking to bring the topic of depression and its most detrimental departure point to the public forum, they hope to raise awareness.

The word share has become a tired pejorative in today’s rough textured and soulless marketplace.CBCDragon Kevin O’Leary reminds us with unrelenting and bloodless enthusiasm that “kumbaya” moments are for “losers.” It’s part of a congenital societal deficiency being transferred to our youth. Where feelings, sharing and asking for aid no longer exist as viable coins of the realm. We are taught to stuff our feelings from a young age.

Senator Kirby and Luke Richardson beg to differ. They both spearhead movements for change inCanada. To bring light to that bushel basket of fears and mental anguish.

“Our own lack of knowledge has put us in this path of disbelief, sorrow and despair. It’s filled with never-to-be answered questions and pain,” saysRichardson.

The family has now joined the Royal Ottawa Foundation for Mental Health, the Ottawa Senators and the Sens Foundation to launch fundraising and awareness efforts to inspire youth to talk about mental health.

Daron’s 15th birthday falls on Feb. 8. That day has now been dubbed ‘Do It for Daron Purple Pledge Day,’ when people will be asked to wear purple in support of the Daron Richardson Fund at the Royal Ottawa Foundation for Mental Health. Purple was Daron’s favorite colours.

How far this feeling? Right here in Haliburton, two young women, Andrea Butera and Carrie Hirst want you to remember Daron, shed some light and spin.

“I lost a close family friend,” says Carrie Hirst. “He was in his early 20s and a university student, and he took his life. I was watching Rick Mercer when during one of his rants. He brought forward some suicide numbers. Then I heard about the Do it For Daron fund.”

Hirst says she just wanted to do something. “I love spinning and I convinced Andrea (Butera runs the popular Haliburton Spinning) to Do it for Daron right here in Haliburton, to raise awareness for our mental health system,” explains Hirst. “I think it’s important to inform and to remove the stigma. Kids have to be able to talk about this.”

Are you spun? Can you spin? Would you like to try? If you’ve got a person in your life or you know of a person you care about who is suffering? Or you are inspired by Do it For Daron?

Come down to the bottom of Stedman’s Mall on Saturday, December 10 and participate.

Butera’s Haliburton Spinning Club has a firmly padded bike seat and two pedals waiting. Bring $20 and an open mind.

“I’ll be running spinning classes at eight, nine, 10 and11 o’clockSaturday morning,” says Butera. “A lot of people have responded but we still have space.”

Tax receipts, refreshments and door prizes donated by some caring shopkeepers and good citizens of Haliburton will all be on hand.

So get you sorry butt down to Stedman’s on Dec 10. And if you don’t ride?

No fears mate. Donate for Daron and your own peace of mind.

Email at haliburtonindoorcycling@hotmail.com. And Phone at 705-457-4961.[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]