By Cassie Burgess
Sunday’s ‘Do it for Daron’ game hits home for the Binghamton Senators. Not only because it allows the community to help raise awareness in support of a good cause, but that it has its own personal significance to a crucial member of the B-Sens family.
The event was created in honor of Daron Richardson, the 14-year-old daughter of B-Sens head coach Luke Richardson, who lost her life to suicide in November 2010. The ‘Do it for Daron’ or D.I.F.D. campaign was established by friends and family of Daron's in hopes of transforming the misconceptions that come with having mental illnesses.
Because suicide is the third leading cause of death in adolescents and young adults, the campaign was designed to create conversations about mental health and continue to help young individuals struggling with a variety of mental disabilities reach out for help without feeling fear or shame. In honor of Daron and her favorite color purple, D.I.F.D. also created the Power to the Purple challenge, which encourages schools and people in surrounding communities to raise awareness about youth mental health.
“It is a big hidden problem, not just in our community but around the world,” Luke Richardson said. “This movement has really grabbed attention, had people talking and having conversations and that’s what the whole initiative is about.”
Since the D.I.F.D initiative was launched, it has since been supported by organizations, schools and young adults all over the country. Back on February 26, 2011 the Ottawa Senators and the Ottawa Senators Foundation hosted the first annual D.I.F.D Youth Mental Health Awareness Night at Scotiabank Place. Both hockey teams that night wore purple hearts on their helmets in support of the D.I.F.D cause.
In addition to the events that have been held, numerous YouTube videos have surfaced of individuals showing their support for youth mental health awareness and the D.I.F.D campaign. Rock band Three Days Grace, former Ottawa forward Mike Fisher and country music star Carrie Underwood have also released videos in respect of the D.I.F.D. initiative.
As Sunday’s game is certainly important to the Richardson family, it has proven equally significant to the B-Sens players.
“It’s huge supporting Luke, our coach, and what his family has been through,”
Corey Cowick said. “As something [like mental illness] that wasn’t in the fore front going back three or four years, now that it has come out it has hit a lot of us hugely,”
Cowick, along with members of the B-Sens staff, has continuously shown support for the cause by wearing purple D.I.F.D bracelets. Fans are also encouraged to wear purple to Sunday night’s game.
“With the unfortunate circumstances that happened with Daron, it brought a lot of it to the light,” Cowick said. “It’s unfortunate it happened to her, but I think she has saved a lot of lives.”
On the D.I.F.D. website you can find listings of all the organizations events, a link to donate to the cause, and a list of phone numbers of who to call if you or someone you know is need of someone to talk to. The truth is that we may never know how many lives the D.I.F.D organization has impacted or ultimately saved. Yet one thing we know for sure is that the B-Sens community is behind the Richardson family one-hundred percent.
“It’s a very warming feeling,” Richardson stated. “It’s not surprising to me that not only the hockey community but also the community in Binghamton that support the Senators are really behind us. It makes us feel great.”