A mental health awareness campaign that started in Maynooth, Ont., has made its way to Durham.
The founders launched the initiative after a loved one died by suicide this past May. Now, his family is using his favourite sport as a means of sending a message and helping others in need of support.
Whitby baseball player Ashlynn Jolicoeur got that message.
Jolicoeur had just been given an award by ESPN after appearing in their SportsCentre Top 10. She rose to fame for her determination to show that girls are just as capable of playing baseball as boys.
What was supposed to be a quick stop at the batting cage to see the banner turned into something different. As she and her family were leaving, Ashlynn found a baseball glove in the dugout at a nearby diamond.
The glove had been placed there to raise awareness for mental health and suicide prevention. The initiative, called Baseball for Dad, was started by Mark Sniders’ mother after he took his life earlier this year. He loved the game, and in his honour, his family began working tirelessly to help fight the stigmas surrounding suicide.
“I picked it up thinking, ‘That was nice, someone put a glove in a bag to keep it safe for someone who forgot it here.’ That’s when we saw the Baseball For Dad information,” said Dan Therien, Ashlynn’s Dad.
Both families told Global News they felt as though Ashlynn’s discovery of the glove was meant to be.
“All sorts of comments like that, we just love it. We love the story, how she found it and love that they are going to continue to put the glove out for more awareness,” said Louri Snider, Mark’s mom.
Since launching the Baseball for Dad initiative in August, 137 cards with instructions on how to keep the message going were mailed out. So far, close to 50 gloves have been placed around the world.
“As a family, we agree this helps with healing. Day after day, I’m taken aback by it all and this shows us the need and how many people are feeling it needs to be talked about,” said Snider.
“It’s not something we thought about talking to Ashlynn about at this age, but it’s a good thing to discuss with your kids and your family,” said Therien.
Ashlynn said she plans on spreading the message. She doesn’t know where she’ll place the glove next, but hopes whoever finds it, will do the same.