“Four years ago, my good friend Stu Gershman lost his eldest son, Jesse, who took his own life at the age of 22. I don’t pretend to know Stu’s pain. I don’t know if anyone ever can. What I do know however, is that through this tragedy, Stu is making a difference – a big difference – in the lives of thousands of people. He is doing this through Buddy Check for Jesse, where minor hockey associations across Canada use green tape, green being the colour for mental health. And while the tape serves as a visual reminder, it is the mental health message that Stu is passing on to the kids, through their coaches, that will have a lasting and positive effect on so many people’s lives.” – Ted Balderson, Hockey Old Timer
“Stu Gershman contacted the GVBA this past March about Buddy Check for Jesse. It had an immediate and profound impact on our association. Not only is it a strong mental health message, it allowed coaches, families, and players an opportunity to connect on a di erent level which invited a renewal of friendship and support that is often lost between the bleachers and the dugouts.
We are really looking forward to continuing this message every year.
Thank you Buddy Check!”
– Jason Leslie
President, Greater Victoria Baseball Association
“I am so honoured to play a small role in the bigger picture of mental health awareness. It can happen to anyone. I know what it feels like to have family and friends reach out when my behaviour changed, when my black hole opened, when my mind went rogue and took me to places, I don’t ever want to return to. And I am forever grateful. The Buddy Check for Jesse Program, although created for hockey players, is relevant to everyone. Pay attention to those around you and don’t be afraid to check in.” – Hockey Mom
“Stu, you should be so proud of this beautiful project you’ve created in Jesse’s name. It is helping so many people, adults and children alike. I’m so glad Noah is growing up in a time when initiatives like Buddy Check for Jesse exist…not only in case he experiences mental health issues, but so he can support other friends and family who may struggle. You’ve taken the worst kind of pain and created something truly wonderful. I hope that helps carry you through this day and always.” – Robyn Vandersteen
“Just watched Stu Gershman’s video for the first time this afternoon. In late 2016 till about late 2017 I was dealing with extremely bad anxiety and depression. I suffered for about 4-5 months before I finally decided to get some help. Admitting it was time to get help was the toughest part of the process. Getting this help was not an instant fix as it was a rollercoaster ride for about 8 months thereafter. I am proud to say that for about a good year now I have been about 95% anxiety/depression free. I appreciated the video a lot because I know there are hundreds or maybe even thousands of kids and people like myself who are struggling through these illnesses each and every day who don’t tell anyone that they are struggling and just live with it until it gets so bad, it just becomes too late. I think the Buddy Check for Jesse campaign will do a lot of good for a lot of people, not only just in hockey/sports world, but hopefully in schools and just everywhere in general.” – Minor Hockey Player
“Honoured with the Sportsmanship of the Year award, my son showed what it takes to succeed over mental health issues (like Childhood Anxiety). He is a Rockstar. He is the bravest and strongest person I have ever known. He is my hero. And he deserves this award. Not from pity. But because he constantly showed me, his coaches and his teammates what it truly takes to be an incredible Sportsman. It takes heart, strength, kindness, respect and determination. And this kid has it in spades. Proud of my son. So very proud.” Thanks to the Buddy Check for Jesse initiative, the players on Lindsay’s son’s team wrapped their hockey sticks with green tape (the color of mental health awareness) in order to break stigmas and show that everyone is in this game of life together. No one should feel alone.” – Lindsay Gee
“My name is Breanna, since a young age I have dealt with lots of bullying, mental health and have struggled in many social situations. Hockey is my whole life and has been since I could walk, it has gotten me through many hard times. When I am out on the ice the rest of the world just disappears for 1-2 hours. In my grade seven year I was diagnosed with Anxiety disorder, Depression, and ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). When I saw the Buddy Check for Jesse Poster, it caught my attention and I immediately sent a picture of it to my hockey coach. This is the first time I have shared with a team Coach and the reaction has been amazing. Your poster lead to this and has since gotten my entire team to tape their sticks green. It has opened up conversations with teammates about Mental Health and awareness with parents on the team. I haven’t shared with my entire team what I’m going through, only a select few. My Coach continues to add talks around Mental Health and regularly checks in with me. Throughout this whole experience I found some of the hardest things were asking for help and knowing who to ask, as well as trying to deal with the stigma around mental health. So if sharing my story and helping educate other people will possibly help end the stigma then I am happy to help.” – Breanna
“I have had the pleasure of working for many years with the Buddy Check for Jesse (BCFJ) Society leadership team, both in my current role of Executive Director of Softball BC and prior to that as the CEO of BC Hockey.
During this time, I have watched firsthand as the BCFJ Society grew from a grass roots concept aimed at delivering an important message by leveraging the bond between hockey players and their coach. I was also fortunate to be a part of the implementation of regional BCFJ pilot programs, and the program’s impressive growth into a multi-sport awareness platform using the power of sport to increase the awareness and understanding of youth mental health issues across multiple provinces.
This past spring Softball BC assisted in rolling out the program to our young players, and the feedback from our coaches and our membership was overwhelmingly positive. The importance of the subject matter is universally recognized, and the ease in which it can be implemented makes it a natural fit for the amateur sport volunteers responsible for operating youth teams and leagues. BCFJ’s unique and relatively simple approach easily translates into a large and impactful reach and messaging.
Over the years we have also noticed an important side benefit to the BCFJ program. While the target audience has always been the players, we have experienced a very large and positive collateral impact on our coaches, spectators and extended families as the program rolls out – the green colouring of the BCFJ branded merchandise is easy to spot on the playing field, and quickly spreads throughout the community enhancing the level of awareness as well as the appreciation for the program.
It is due to the overwhelmingly positive feedback from this program that we look forward to continuing our support for the BCFJ Society and to expanding our reach across the softball diamonds of British Columbia.”
– Barry Petrachenko
Executive Director, Softball BC
Buddy Check for Jesse wishes to extend a huge thank you to all of our partners (Suburbia Studios, CBI Health, Moa Media, SportsArt.ca and BC Hockey) for a very successful first launch of this grassroots initiative. Thanks also to Nick Dueck, Courtney Bone and Tanner Biggan for their video work.
Many individuals have been instrumental in providing their assistance to try and get our message to the players, their families, coaches, and the greater community. Most of all, I wish to thank the players and coaches for their willingness to step outside of their comfort zone and regular routine in order take Canada’s game to another level.
This is just the beginning of something bigger. Buddy Check for Jesse is just getting started.