"Scooper Sunday" with the Yard Goats and our freind John Holt.
HARTFORD: The day was one filled with mixed emotions for my friend, John Holt.
On one hand, he was happy to be helping bring awareness to something that certainly still lurks in the shadows but on the other hand, he would rather it never happened.
At Dunkin Donuts Park, home of the Yard Goats, Holt attended another Scooper Sunday event, an event created to help bring awareness to a problem that too often dealt with once it is too late.
I’m talking about suicide.
Back in 1999, Holt lost his brother Lindsey to suicide the day after Thanksgiving, a time that we celebrate with family and friends but not that year for the Holt Family.
It took Holt and his family a good long time to deal with the repercussions that came from that event but he has chosen to devote much of his life to helping others see the signs that someone may be struggling before it’s too late.
Whenever something like suicide hits a family, it tests every fiber of their being, every amount of faith they can muster and it’s a long, agonizing journey to try and understand why this happened and why it wasn’t seen just a moment earlier.
Blame and quilt bubble their way to the surface at all hours of the day and the struggle for the survivors is real and it’s deep.
On Sunday, for the eighth year, Holt made his way to the park on a bright and warm Sunday morning that looked as if no one should have a care in the world but he did.
At first the journey in from Longmeadow, Massachusetts was tough and somewhat sluggish but once he got inside and felt the love and energy, the sun came out for him as well.
“Becoming aware of the signs of suicide,” Holt said. “Is meaning you have to become a good listener. Not just a casual listener that looks right through the person when they talk but one who really, truly listens and cares about what a person is saying.”
This year’s event was a benefit for the Jordan Porco Foundation in memory of Jordan Porco, who was lost to all on February 16, 2011 at a far too young 18 years old.
The focus of the day was to help shine a light on the growing problem of suicide by high school and college age students.
There are some alarming numbers out there which include the fact that 1100 college students die from suicide each year.
That’s more than the entire population of Torrington High School if you stop and think about it.
17 percent of students in grades 9-12 have seriously considered harming themselves, 14 percent made a plan, 8 percent made an attempt.
The stresses of modern life haven’t gotten any easier for our kids or grandkids, they have simply changed what form they show up in.
With social media magnifying everything everyone does, it has made things so much tougher, but days like Sunday can help people understand that the little things can sometimes mean the most.
“A simple gesture like putting your hand on someone shoulder to tell them you are there for them” Holt said. “Can make all the difference in the world. It tells them that someone cares.”
On Sunday, nine different ice cream vendors were on hand on Sunday with over 32 flavors that were simply ridiculously good.
Over 400 tickets were sold before the event and from the number of wristbands he saw around the park, Holt estimated they may have had over 800 ice cream loving folks helping and showing they cared.
John Holt is a good and humble man who loves his family and counts on his friends, who will always have his back because he has ours.