After losing a close friend while a high school student in Kincardine, Garrett McFadden made a commitment to mental health awareness moving forward.
It’s a role he’s taken on ever since he played in the OMHA with the Kinucks, later with the Grey-Bruce Highlanders, and onto the Ontario Hockey League and beyond.
After the tragedy, he said it was the first point in his life when he started to realize what mental health was and how it can impact everyone.
McFadden acknowledged his vision was really able to take off with the Guelph Storm, as the team was very active within the community and could support his initiative. Clear skies led to a successful McFadden’s Movement Celebrity Charity Golf Classic in July. The third annual holding of the event, the fundraiser was held at Ariss Valley Golf & Country Club, just outside of Guelph.
“The guys were huge supporters of it all. A lot of them are still involved today, whether it’s the golf tournament of whatever events we decide to do. There’s a ton of support from my former teammates.”
One of those former Storm teammates is Jason Dickinson, now an NHL veteran with the Chicago Blackhawks. He can see how much the cause is important to McFadden.
“Listening to him explain it to me, I could tell it meant something to him and I loved what he was preaching and what he wanted to do. I thought it was great. Every year since, it’s grown and grown. He clearly cares about it.”
A pro for a nearly decade, Dickinson explains the shift in how teams are approaching their support to mental health.
“When I first turned pro, there was basically nothing available. They could help you find somebody if you wanted help but there was nobody readily accessible,” said Dickinson. “Now I’m hearing guys in the minors (AHL), the teams have full player development programs where it’s all covered. They’ve definitely bought into the idea that a lot of these guys are struggling.”
When he has the opportunity, McFadden spends his time talking to minor hockey teams and in schools. Proceeds raised by McFadden’s Movement are donated to Wes 4 Youth and CMHA Waterloo-Wellington.
He wants the minor hockey players of today to look out for themselves and be good teammates and become familiar with the mental health resources that exist around them.
“If you can be a good influence on the people around you it’s going to be a major help,” said McFadden.
“Hockey is a team sport so you’ve grown up with people in your corner all along. There’s no reason to try and do this on your own,” said Dickinson.
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