It’s a bright spot that came from an unimaginable tragedy.
“I became part of a club I never thought I would become a part of,” says Stu Gershman.
Gershman’s son Jesse took his own life in October of 2014. At the time, Gershman was coaching minor hockey and decided to use his experience to raise awareness about mental health with players and youth around Victoria.
“I basically went into the dressing rooms and chatted to the players a little bit about mental health and some of the other parents brought out green tape,” says Gershman.
“So all the players taped their sticks green which is the colour of mental health which I learned at that time and that’s where it’s all come from,” adds Gershman.
The Buddy Check for Jesse charity continues to thrive and, in a pandemic pivot, has expanded to include a variety of other sports.
“Any coach can deliver a Buddy Check chat to their players and we branded it into a multi-sport format,” says Gershman.
“We have resources for them, we have sample coaches chats, things to help them along the way,” adds Gershman.
To help out with this expanded offering, local runner Ryan Maskery is attempting to complete one of the longest endurance races in the world, the Moab 240.
“The Moab 240 is a 240 mile non-stop footrace through the desert and mountains of Utah,” says Maskery.
“So on October 8th I will have 112 hours to run nine consecutive marathons,” adds Maskery.
It’s a unique challenge and Maskery’s own way of giving back.
“Running’s given me so much, not only did it help me get in shape, but it had a profound effect on my mental health,” says Maskery.
“I thought it was time to give back and I reached out to Stu and said I’d like to do something for Buddy Check,” adds Maskery.
Whether he sees the finish line or not, in the eyes of Gershman, Maskery is already a winner.
“It doesn’t even matter what happens when he’s there, but we are going to be following him every step of the way,” says Gershman.
To donate to Maskery’s run, visit his Run for Mental Health page.