AJAX -- Ending the stigma around mental illness is a difficult task, but it’s one that Anthea Turner and her family are doing their best to conquer.
After losing her husband Steve to a battle with depression in 2013, Turner and her children, Emma and Peter, decided to honour his life with the creation of the Steve Turner Memorial Soccer Tournament, which took place in September 2014.
“(Steve) loved soccer, he played soccer, he coached soccer, he just loved the game, so it seemed fitting that we would have a tournament,” says Anthea.
In order to raise funds for this year’s tournament, being held again this September, and to increase awareness for mental illness, the Turner family held a fundraiser at the Ajax Rugby Club on Saturday, March 14.
“I want it to be a free tournament,” says Anthea, “so rather than cover that cost every year, we decided why not have a night out.”
Raffle prizes and a silent auction helped to raise money that will cover the cost of the field rentals, medals and more for the tournament, but the message of the night overshadows the fun and games: Conquer stigma. The message, displayed proudly on the backs of dozens of T-shirts worn by family and friends, is one the Turner family is eager to advocate.
“A lot of people might not think its acceptable to come out and speak about it,” says Peter. “We want people to come out and speak about it to other people, and know that they have support and are not alone with their battle."
By starting a Facebook page and Twitter account around the theme Conquer stigma, the Turners are doing everything they can to spread the message, and keep the conversation going on a sometimes uncomfortable topic.
“It’s not something to be scared of, it's just the same as dying from any physical disease, we aren’t scared to talk about cancer or heart disease,” says Anthea. “Depression took my husband’s life, it’s a simple as that. He didn’t take his life, his illness took his life.”
Family friend Brenda Balsdon says she sees the Turner family as champions of this cause.
“I think that with the passion that they have behind it, that this will become more of a march to try and get rid of that mental illness stigma.”
And while the event was a great success, with almost 100 people in attendance to celebrate the life of Steve Turner with a dance, a drink, or a donation, the family remains steadfast in their goal.
“We just want people to be more aware of depression, the after effects and what it can lead to,” says Emma.
The Steve Turner Memorial Soccer Tournament will be held Sept. 12, on the Ajax Community Centre soccer fields.
Mar 20, 2015
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