October 7th was my birthday!
If you were wondering, I turned 45 years old!!!!!
In lieu of presents, I have asked the people who care about me for something very special. To donate a few bucks to honor a young man I have never met.
His name is Erik Cahill. I am connected to him because he is the son of one of my primary paralegals, Angela Cahill.
Erik lost his battle with depression earlier this year and took his own life.
As you would expect, it crushed his family and the people who knew him.
There was so much pain and confusion.
In my small way of trying to help, I offered the family the only assistance I could think of. I agreed to cook for Erik’s memorial.
Outdoor cooking for me is a passion. If you are a carnivore, I guarantee, I can make you happy. This is not a brag, it is a statement of fact. If you think Stephens’ Squibs, is an impressive website, you should check out my REAL website…. The Smoke Pit!
When I agreed to cook, no one realized 120 people from all over the country would end up attending this event. That just shows you how much Erik was loved.
More people than I expected chipped in and we were able to complete the task. There was no way people were going to be hungry. As luck would have it, I brought just enough food.
I was also asked by Angela to say a few words at the gathering. I have lost both of my parents, and my Mother when I was 15. These events were traumatic for me. So by sharing my own personal experiences and perspective on my own healing process, it was my intent to help begin their healing process. Ironically, sharing these experiences in this manner advanced my healing as well.
I met many incredible people that day, some I still keep in touch with. I learned that Erik was very loved and indeed left a mark on his community.
I also saw the hole he left. The hole in everyone’s heart he had touched that will never be filled.
If someone in your life has committed suicide, or you know someone who had someone in their life commit suicide, then you know the impact it has on family, friends and love ones. It leaves the “hole that can never be filled” and changes that person forever.
After the event I was incredible inspired by Angela and her daughter, Jessica. They participated in a fundraising walk at University of Central Florida in the spring to raise money for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, which has a goal to reduce suicide rates by 20% by 2025.
The really sad thing is suicide is usually absolutely preventable if proper treatment is received. But because of the stigma of mental illness there is a huge gap in people getting proper treatment. 18.2% of our adult population currently suffers from some form of mental illness. The largest mental health provider in Palm Beach County is the Sheriff’s office.
This is a fundamentally flawed approach and needs to be fixed.
Angela and Jessica have taken all of this pain and confusion and channeled that energy into something wonderful, an attempt to fix this problem.
So they entered a walk at UCF in the spring this year to raise money and awareness for suicide prevention. For the first walk, I made a donation. They were the top fundraising team.
Now they are at it again. There is a walk on October 29th they are participating in: the “Out of the Darkness Polk County Walk” and are attempting to remain the top fundraising team at this walk. It seems if we raise awareness to reducing the stigma of getting treatment and raise some funds to reduce the suicide rate by 20% by 2025, it will have an impact on this problem.
For these reasons, I was inspired by Angela and Jessica to make this gesture.
If you have enjoyed my squibs and/or my musings, then I would ask you donate at least the cost of a fancy cup of coffee to this cause. More if you are inspired.
It would make a great Birthday Present for me!
I see change in Jessica and Angela. There is a passion that was not there before. A passion to help, to get involved in things neither of them have been involved with before.
The team that raises the most money gets to carry the banner at the lead of the walk. There is nothing I want more in the world then a picture of those two carrying the banner and following this newly created bliss (passion) that has risen from pain like a phoenix.
Even though I have never met this young man, this experience certainly left a mark on my heart. For these reasons…. I hope you honor one of my heroes, Erik Cahill.
Eddie Stephens, October 5th, 2016
*Note, I chose to post this before my birthday as it looks like we have some inclement weather heading our way and we likely wont have electricity on Friday. For all affected by Hurricane Matthew, please be safe and good luck!
Pictures of memorial courtesy of Smithco Photo Images, others from Facebook.
If you want to donate we can. If not thats fine too it was more the cause.
The link to donate: http://afsp.donordrive.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=donordrive.participantDonations&participantID=1006022