2022 Victoria Community Leadership Award Winner
Buddy Check for Jesse is proud to be a part of the Leadership Victoria community and Stu was honoured to receive a Victoria Community Leadership Award this year. This type of support is the way we promote social change – and what a change we can make when we support one another and promote social good. Our gratitude to Leadership Victoria for this recognition.
CHEK Upside: Victoria runner raising funds for mental health charity
Checknews.ca – By Cole Sorenson
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.
Checking in on Mental Health in the Sport Environment
The impacts of COVID-19 on sport and beyond has shown a need for more regular conversations around mental health, normalizing asking for help and making resources accessible to those who need them.
These awards recognize an individual, a BC-based non-profit organization, and a BC-based company that are working to improve the health and safety of British Columbians. Nominees must have demonstrated a concern for health and safety through specific actions or initiatives. These actions must show ingenuity and creativity, and have resulted in change with the potential for positive, long-term improvement.
Buddy Check for Jesse – a youth-focused non-profit organization – is helping to change the conversation around youth mental health.
Anyone can experience challenges with their mental health – they are common and can happen at any age. Buddy Check for Jesse is supporting coaches of youth sports teams to talk openly to their players about mental health, and challenge stereotypes about who may be struggling.
The founder of Buddy Check for Jesse, Dr. Stu Gershman, shares his experiences, the work of the organization, and why talking about mental health with youth is so important.
During the current COVID-19 pandemic, mental health awareness is more important than ever. The Pacific Institute for Sport Excellence (PISE) and viaSport have recently partnered with the Buddy Check for Jesse Society, a program bringing awareness to mental health in sport. The society was created by Dr. Stu Gershman in memory of his son Jesse Short-Gershman who tragically took his life in 2014 after struggling with mental health issues. Since partnering with BC Hockey, their message has spread to hundreds of coaches and thousands of players and this new partnership will expand the program across a wider range of sports.
Publisher: Janet Russel BUDDY CHECK FOR JESSE UPDATE: TURNING A FAMILY TRAGEDY INTO HEALING, HOPE AND SAVING LIVES
Submitted by Shelley Gershman
On October 29th, 2014, my brother Stu’s oldest son Jesse, age 22, died by suicide. Jesse was a “gifted child”. By age 20 he was working in Silicon Valley at Google, his dream career. Stu Gershman, a Sports Medicine Doctor and Pain Management Leader lives in Victoria, BC. Stu was looking for a way to help his other two sons feel supported and to make their teammates understand the importance of mental health.