By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
The crowd for Rochester Hills Stoney Creek’s boys basketball game against rival Rochester was as rowdy as could be hoped for most of the evening Feb. 28.
But it fell silent during halftime as Stoney Creek juniors Nate Davis, Kevin Price and Isabella Ubaydi spoke of how suicide had affected them and their community.
A student had committed suicide every year during their high school careers – including Price’s brother just six months before.
All three are members of the school’s Cougar Athletic Leadership Council, which put on the Suicide Prevention Awareness basketball game not only to raise money for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, but also to start the conversation on a sensitive topic that has hit home.
“We wanted to get the word out that it’s OK to talk about these issues – help the topic get out of the dark,” Ubaydi said.
“It was insane. It was awesome. There were so many people. Our student section area where we all sit was filled up to the top row. There were a lot of people from the community who didn’t go to Stoney Creek, or have alumni (associated with the school) or anything like that. But they were at Stoney Creek, and it was great to show people actually care in our community.”
The leadership council is a club made up of Stoney Creek athletes who coordinate special events, including for athletics, with an eye especially on helping the community’s youth, elderly and those with disabilities. Ubaydi, Price and Davis are co-chairs of the CALC’s special events committee.
The tragic circumstances of the last three years led the group to bring suicide prevention to the forefront. While Ubaydi spoke mostly about why the event was held and how donations would be spent, Price and Davis (Price’s best friend) talked about how suicide had affected them personally. “You could hear a pin drop,” Ubaydi said. “After we were done, (the crowd) gave a standing ovation.”
CALC raised nearly $3,500 selling T-shirts that also included free student admission to the game. After Ubaydi, Price and Davis spoke, buckets were passed through the crowd during a “miracle minute” and filled with another $1,200.
All profits from the night, including $500 from concessions, were donated to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, and Ubaydi said the $1,000 from the Community Service Award also will be sent to AFSP.
She’s since heard stories from teachers of classmates coming forward to express worries about people in their lives, a sign awareness is paying off. At the same time, Ubaydi and her co-chairs are just as concerned about people who didn’t attend the Suicide Prevention Awareness game and might be experiencing troubles in their lives – but the hope is the event spoke loudly enough to be heard by anyone who needs help.
All three leaders are juniors beginning to contemplate their futures after high school; Ubaydi is leaning toward Roanoke College in Virginia to study political science and minor in theology, while Price is considering Michigan State to study environmental science and Davis is looking at options for pre-law or political science. They hope to host the suicide prevention event again as seniors before they graduate, with future CALC students then carrying on the mission.
“Suicide is an uncomfortable topic to talk about. Since people saw us relating to how it has affected us personally, the community will become comfortable discussing mental illnesses together,” Ubaydi wrote in CALC’s award application.
“I wanted to have this event so people understand that the influence that one person can make may be life-changing. This then causes them to be there for others, see the signs quicker, and save more lives.”
PHOTO: (Top) Cougar Athletic Leadership Council leaders Kevin Price, Isabella Ubaydi and Nate Davis show their shirts from the school’s Suicide Prevention Awareness night. VIDEOS: (Top) State Champs! Network covered the event and interviewed its organizers. (Below) Davis, Ubaydi and Price speak during halftime, also filmed by State Champs! Network.
2017 Community Service Awards
Sunday: Colon "Yard Squad" - Read
Monday: Bailey Brown, Brighton - Read
Tuesday: Justice Ottinger, Newaygo - Read
Thursday: Katie Sesi, Ann Arbor Huron - Read
Friday: Nikki Sorgi, Utica Ford - Read
Friday: Cougar Athletic Leadership Council, Rochester Hills Stoney Creek - Read