Each person is living a vivid, complex, and epic story filled with hopes, dreams, and battle scars, a story that we may play a major role in or never cross paths with. However, the lives of some of these people – their stories – are plagued with a silent killer. Depression affects 14.8 million Americans and has claimed 42,773 lives last year. Due to its negative stigma and the sufferer’s own feelings of shame, depression can be undetectable until it is too late.
My team and I have started this initiative in response to a dear friend whose life and vivid story was one of those cut short too soon. Four months ago, my girlfriend, Cheyenne Garza passed away and lost her fight to depression. Cheyenne was a beautiful woman who always looked for the good in everyone. She was an artist who loved to paint, draw, dance, and take pictures. Her dream was to become a photographer for National Geographic so she could explore the world and put her passion to good use.
However, depression is a silent killer, and Cheyenne battled her anxiety and depression alone for years without letting anyone know. While we are still in shock and healing from this tragedy, we know we are channeling Cheyenne’s benevolent spirit to help others who are afflicted with the same disease. In March 2016, we established ourselves as a non-profit organization in the state of Texas aiming to help young adults overcome their battle with depression.
During the week of April 18th, 2016, we also partnered with the Gamma Beta Fraternity chapter at Texas Tech University for Philanthropy Week. As part of raising awareness of depression’s pervasiveness and educating students on how they can recognize or treat the symptoms, we distributed informative pamphlets to students and culminated the week with guest speaker, Tye King. The reception was resoundingly positive with students exclaiming how they can connect these lessons to their friends who are dealing with depression to potentially help or even save a life.
Funded by Plano, TX (May 2016)