John Holt's Mission: All the Ice Cream You Can Eat for a Great Cause this Sunday at Rock Cats Game. By John Torsiello.
By, JOHN TORSIELLO
Of course, it can never bring back his brother, or even cover up the deep wounds that occurred when John Holt’s brother took his own life.
But Holt believes that his activity and efforts to bring attention to prevent the terrible tragedy of suicide at least gives he and his family some comfort and helps them continue the healing process.
Holt, a WFSB sports anchor and reporter, lost his brother, Lindsey, to suicide the day after Thanksgiving in 1999.
“It gutted my family,” Holt said this week of the tragedy, “ultimately fracturing my family and leading to my parent's divorce. Once I processed the grief, which took almost 10 years, I wanted to direct my energy into a charity event to support suicide prevention. That event is Scooper Sunday (now in its' 6th year). It is the miniature Connecticut version of an annual event in Boston put on by the Jimmy Fund and Dana Farber called `The Scooper Bowl.’”
The New Britain Rock Cats are hosting Scooper Sunday this Sunday to benefit the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
Game time is 1:35 p.m. at Willow Brook Park in New Britain, with the gates opening for the contest against Portland at noon. Advance tickets purchased through the AFSP include the game and all-you-can-eat ice cream, and are available for $10 for general admission and $15 for reserved seating.
On the day of the game, fans can also purchase a $6 hand stamp for all-you-can-eat ice cream.
Holt is an Emmy Award-winning sportscaster, a 1994 graduate of Syracuse University, and joined Channel 3 in 1999 as an Eyewitness Sports reporter and anchor on Eyewitness News weekends at 6 and 11 p.m.
He has been nominated for 11 New England Chapter Emmy Awards and has won four, including in 2011 for On Camera Talent--Sports. This spring, Holt was honored with a regional Edward R. Murrow Award for his story, "One Last Wish," which chronicled a home run hit by East Lyme native and Toronto Blue Jay John McDonald.
Despite such events and the fact that they help Holt and his family try and overcome the pain of losing Lindsey Holt to suicide, Holt said the angst, and even anger, lingers on.
“This event helps in my continued healing but not a day goes by when I don't wish my brother was with us. He would have made a wonderful uncle to my daughters, and husband and father to his own family. I've always said that if ever we were reunited I'd start by giving him a big, extended hug then step back and punch his lights out. I miss him but I am also angry at what he has done to me and my family.”
Suicide for many years has been a dark, almost taboo subject, as if not talking about it will not give it meaning or substance.
Unfortunately for families such as John Holt’s, there is no distancing oneself from the tragic consequences of a loved one’s actions.
He said, “Suicide has `come out of the closet’ more in recent years. Too many families are dealing with it and other mental health issues for it to remain entirely closeted. Still, it remains a hard cause for some to relate to and embrace. Those that have not been touched by suicide may struggle relating to it. It is not as easily embraced and understood as such other worthy causes like the fight against cancer, the fight against diabetes and other diseases.” Holt believes that more and more families are dealing with lonely, depressed and suicidal relatives, if not feeling lonely, depressed and suicidal themselves.
“The pressures and stresses of life in 2014, such as social and economic pressures, have made it such.”
In addition to Scooper Sunday, Holt has spoken at public seminars on suicide, spoken at and participated in annual suicide walks in Connecticut, and hopes to have a role in the under-formation Northern Connecticut Chapter of AFSP- the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
He had nothing but good words to say about the Rock Cats for hosting the event and those vendors who are involved.
“I could not be more appreciative of all that the Rock Cats' staff does to make Scooper Sunday a success. Former Owner Bill Dowling is the gentleman who first green lighted the event in 2009 and ever since the Rock Cats have hosted Scooper Sunday with great enthusiasm. I am also indebted to the ice cream, Italian ice and frozen custard vendors that donate their delicious product year in and year out. This year our lineup is seven vendors strong. I have deemed them the Magnificent 7.”
Those vendors are Praline's, Rita's Ice in Rocky Hill, The Farmer's Cow, The Big Dipper in Prospect, The Frozen Gnome in Burlington, Scotties Frozen Custard in Colchester, and Turkey Hill.
Naturally, all involved are hoping for a huge turnout.
“The weather forecast is always an issue but we're keeping our fingers crossed,” said Holt.
For more information or tickets, e-mail Holt at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention's website. Check out Scooper Sunday on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Scooper-Sunday-At-The-Rock-Cats-July-27th-2014/156694384401314?ref_type=bookmark) as well.