A long running sports event in Vernon has made a donation in memory of a former participant who struggled with mental illness.
The 33rd annual Vernon Doctors Hockey Tournament Society (VDHTS), which was held in March, is the largest physicians hockey tournament in Western Canada.
Through proceeds of the event, the society donated $2,5000 to CMHA Vernon Branch in memory of Laura Taylor.
Taylor was a UBC medical student and gifted athlete who died by suicide last year.
She had taken part in the Vernon Doctors’ tournaments, and was also a member of the UBC Women’s Thunderbird Hockey Team after also playing varsity hockey with the University of Saskatchewan women’s team.
Photo: Laura Taylor
Taylor’s family openly shared her story in an effort to reduce the stigma surrounding mental illness while promoting mental wellness.
“Laura was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and struggled with the associated stigma which left her feeling too vulnerable to openly talk about her own mental illness,” says parents Tom and Sue Taylor. “Our family hopes that by sharing Laura’s story and raising funds for more education regarding mental illness, we can break down the stigma which can be a barrier that can even prevent people from seeking help. The stigma won’t go away if families hide the truth. It needs to be talked about openly just as you would talk about any other illness.”
The donation will help the CMHA in outreach programs to educate the community about the importance of prevention and early intervention in mental health.
“We are pleased to be able to make this donation in Laura’s memory to help improve the dialogue about mental health in our community,” says Dr. Gavin Smart from VDHTS.