Suicide Prevention and Mental Health Issues are very real problems and have a personal connection to our Team Organizer, Sara Gladney from Valley Forge, PA. Note: All proceeds donated to this fundraiser for our team and any others go directly to Buulding Hope Summit County.
Sara and her team hope you will donate to this very important cause to raise funds for those with mental health issues in the ski and snowboard community. Sara will be flying out to Colorado in January using her personal funds for flights, car rental, lodging, and all other expenses to participate with her team in the 2020 Secret Spot Challenge because of how important this type of event and its mission mean to her. Sara hopes her personal story resonates with others as she has found a way to turn a negative experience into something positive.
Here is her personal story:
In the Fall of 2019, I decided to walk away from a ski club that I had been a part of for 3 years. I volunteered in many aspects of the club including planning local happy hours, social media, trips, apparel orders, and more. As a skier since age 3 and only skied with my family, I was thrilled to find friends who shared my passion. I took my volunteer role very seriously and thought it was important to continue to find ways to grow our club and connect others in the Philadelphia region who may not have someone to ride with. Unfortunately, my ideas of growth and countless volunteer hours were no longer welcomed and I tried to find ways to scale back my involvement but each time, it ended with being bullied. As a 30 year old adult, I had not experienced bullying since high school where I first struggled with depression. After multiple mental breakdowns including thoughts of suicide in the Spring and Summer of 2019, I decided to step away from all of it. Walking away from something you love and care so deeply about is VERY hard but knowing my health was at risk and not wanting to put my family through one more breakdown was more important.
I began distracting myself with other activities and volunteer work. I prayed to God that He would guide me to something bigger and better. I am now working with my local church to start a chapter of Snowboarders and Skiers for Christ in the Philadelphia region and being a light to others on the hill who may be facing their own demons. Perhaps one day, there may be opportunities to re-connect with my former ski club but my focus for now will be on fulfilling God's plan for me in sharing His love and grace and growing His Kingdom within the ski and snowboard community.
There is a light at the end of the tunnel and although darkness can sometimes creep back into our lives at different moments, there is "Hope for Tomorrow". It is okay to not be okay and there are many resources to support those of us who struggle. Sara sought help from her family and closest friends to overcome these internal battles and hopes that sharing her story will inspire others to donate or share thier own stories.
Suicide rates in Colorado are significantly higher than the national average, and mental health issues are a growing concern in the mountain communities. As skiers and snowboarders, we all have our own "Secret Spots" on the mountain that we keep to ourselves. The desire is to share these "Secret Spots” by bringing these issues into the light and inviting others to share their stories of hope. The 'Secret Spot Challenge' seeks to raise funds for suicide prevention and mental health awareness, to educate the public on the problems of mental illness and suicide in ski and snowboard communities and to offer practical, healthy solutions moving forward. And we know that overcoming these issues needs to be a Team Challenge, because it is not easy for anyone to do so alone.
Please consider donating to Sara and her team of "Hope for Tomorrow from Survivors of Bullying".
Thank you and God Bless!