Team Helps Raise Awareness of Youth Mental Health Issues
NEW HAVEN, Conn. – Daron Richardson would have turned 15 this past Feb. 8. Just three months after she took her own life, Daron's story has inspired an effort to raise awareness of youth mental health issues. Thanks to freshman forward Jenna Ciotti (Ottawa, Ont.) -- who played for Daron's father, former NHL player Luke Richardson, and with Daron's sister, Morgan -- the Yale women's ice hockey team has joined in the efforts to "Do it for Daron." The Bulldogs' support is symbolized by the purple wristbands they are now wearing.
The Richardson family -- including Luke Richardson, an assistant coach for the Ottawa Senators, his wife, Stephanie, and their daughter, Morgan – went public with Daron's story in the hopes of preventing others from ending their own lives. Jenna Ciotti played for Luke for two years on the Ottawa Jr. Senators. She also played with Morgan for two years on the Senators. Luke spent 21 seasons playing in the NHL with Columbus, Edmonton, Ottawa, Philadelphia, Tampa Bay and Toronto.
"Daron's suicide has had a huge impact on me and my former Senator team," said Jenna. "Being able to spread the D.I.F.D. message to my Yale teammates is a way to keep Daron's spirit alive and support the Richardsons' initiatives."
The Richardsons have joined the Royal Ottawa Foundation for Mental Health in an effort to bring awareness and change to the stigma of suicide. To honor Daron and spread awareness, her family and friends declared Feb. 8 Do it For Daron Purple Pledge Day (D.I.F.D.), choosing Daron's favorite color to symbolize the cause. Purple D.I.F.D. wristbands, like the ones the Bulldogs have, and pins can be seen around hockey arenas and the NHL community.
Since Daron's passing $100,000 has been raised by the community, with the Richardson family matching these generous donations.
On Feb. 26 prior to an NHL game between the Ottawa Senators and Philadelphia Flyers, the Ottawa Senators Foundation will host an annual D.I.F.D. Youth Mental Health Awareness day at Scotiabank Place.
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Report by Sam Rubin '95 (firstname.lastname@example.org), Yale Sports Publicity