“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
“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
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.